Greening out (or a green out) is a term thrown around when someone has consumed or smoked too much weed. It’s a feeling that most experienced stoners will know but can be overwhelming for those who have never passed this sort-of stoner initiation.
As daunting as it may sound, if you understand what it is, why it is happening, and how to handle it, you will be able to control the next time you think you might green out.
What Is Greening Out (Green Out)?
The term greening out, or green out, is slang for passing your tolerance level for weed, describing the unpleasant effects caused by too much THC in your system.
Your weed tolerance varies due to how much weed you usually smoke or consume. So it does vary from person to person.
To understand the science behind greening out, you need to understand what happens to our bodies when we introduce cannabis to our system.
When you smoke weed or consume weed products, we introduce THC and other cannabinoids (other compounds found in cannabis) into our endocannabinoid system, or ECS. This includes interacting with brain receptors called CB1 receptors, which are linked to appetite, pain, depression, memory, and other bodily functions.
If you introduce too much THC to your system, the CB1 receptors will become overwhelmed, resulting in you being sick or “greening out.”
Symptoms when you green out vary depending on the user’s physiological make-up, their tolerance, and how potent the cannabis is.
For some people, a small amount will make them green out; for others, it might take double the amount to green out. So it’s all dependent on the person.
Symptoms of Greening Out (Green Out)
Greening out can happen to anyone who smokes or ingests THC, and as we said earlier, it highly depends on tolerance levels and experience for how severe it might be.
You might not experience all of the symptoms when greening out, and they won’t always be intense. Just in case, here are the most common symptoms:
Like drinking too much alcohol, consuming too much THC can make you vomit. This is the most common physical symptom linked to greening out.
Paranoia and Anxiety
A tricky one to combat as it is a mental symptom, feeling paranoid or a rush of anxiety after smoking too much weed means you have passed your threshold.
Feeling like your head is spinning or the room is spinning is usually a sign that you are not too far from having a little spew.
Chills or Sweats
Not the worst symptom, but feeling like you are too hot or cold is a familiar feeling to greening out. This is usually mild.
Increased Heart Rate
If you are experiencing some paranoia or anxiety, chances are your heart rate will also increase.
Heavy Limbs or Struggling to Move
Sinking into the couch and being unable to move can be the goal for some stoners; for others, it can be too much and trigger some of the above symptoms.
The good news about these symptoms is that they are only temporary and will last only a few minutes to a few hours.
If you are not mixing weed with alcohol or other drugs, these symptoms will go away more quickly. It may feel like a lifetime, but they will pass.
Is Too Much THC Dangerous?
Although it can seem that the world is coming to an end when you green out, it is almost impossible to overdose on THC.
No scientific evidence exists that greening out on cannabis alone can cause any damage.
Yes, you may have a sore throat from vomiting, but there are no recorded or verified instances where someone has died solely to cannabis toxicity.
How is this possible?
Unlike other drugs such as heroin or cocaine, which are famously known for overdoses, THC is very different.
The opioid and dopamine receptors that cocaine and heroin bind to are deep in the brainstem, controlling functions such as breathing and heart beating. Once these receptors are flooded with a nonnative compound, it can cause respiratory and cardiovascular failure.
Thankfully, cannabis is different. It doesn’t affect the brain in ways that would stop our heart or lungs from working.
This means that we can technically flood our brains with as much cannabis as we want, and we will not stop our heart or breathing, unlike with too much cocaine, heroin, or even alcohol.
Of course, if you’re feeling a little green from too much weed, it is always sensible to ensure you take the proper steps to green out safely.
How To Prevent Greening Out
There has been a recurring message throughout our breakdown of what is greening out, and that is that marijuana affects everyone differently.
That is one of the main things to remember to prevent greening out, as what your buddy can handle compared to you might be very different.
You also must remember that people who smoke or ingest weed regularly have probably greened out enough to know their tolerance. So it’s kind of a rite of passage.
However, there are some tips on avoiding greening out, because you should be relaxing and enjoying your experience.
Starting low and going slow is some of the best advice. If you get stoned from one or two hits from a joint, that’s totally okay. You don’t have to smoke more than you need.
Ensure you have eaten enough food and drank enough water before smoking. This can help prevent green-out symptoms.
Just like drinking alcohol, smoking weed, or consuming THC on an empty stomach can strengthen the effects of weed. Also, don’t mix your weed with anything else. That includes booze.
Time is your friend. Just because you ate an edible and you don’t feel anything straight away doesn’t mean it was a dud. Avoid going back for seconds—it will come, and you will feel it.
The last and maybe most important tip to prevent greening out is knowing your tolerance level. Don’t submit to peer pressure. If you feel good and content, stay like that.
4 Tips to Handle a Green Out
Okay, so sometimes you are going to green out. That’s just the way it is.
There are ways to manage greening out—some work better than others—and once you know what works for you, you won’t feel as much panic as you start to notice that maybe you’ve had a bit too much.
1. Focus on your Breathing
The first thing you will do when you notice that you are too high is panic. This is not ideal as it will only make things worse.
Try taking really deep breaths, focus on inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your lips slowly, and know it is going to be okay.
2. Consume CBD
As we mentioned earlier, CBD can counteract the effects of THC. When you feel like you are about to green out, put some drops of CBD oil under your tongue and hold it before swallowing.
3. Hydrate Yourself
If you feel like your mouth is too dry and you’re a little dizzy, try drinking something that isn’t alcoholic or high in caffeine. Water is always a safe bet; juice and tea are also good.
4. Know It Will Pass
Greening out is not the most enjoyable experience, but remember it isn’t permanent and it isn’t dangerous. Sometimes you just need to reassure yourself or your mate that it will pass.
Avoid a Green Out and Enjoy Your Weed
Smoking weed and eating edibles is a fun and relaxing experience. However, sometimes we get a bit too carried away, and we might experience greening out.
Just remember that if you do feel some of those symptoms coming on, they are manageable, and it isn’t permanent.