woman lighting a joint
Maria Sykes
Maria Sykes
June 8, 2024 ·  4 min read

Why Marijuana Isn’t Right for Everyone

While we hear most of the healing benefits associated with the cannabinoid compounds in marijuana, such as THC and CBD, not everyone experiences the same side effects and benefits when using this substance. 

Marijuana is thought of as having only positive benefits, however, there are many people who have experienced negative side effects and a not-so-great experience with the plant.

It should be first noted that today’s marijuana is far more potent than it was back in the 60’s, concentrations of THC have significantly increased from 3.4 percent in 1993, to 8.8 percent in 2008. In 2019 you can find THC levels of up to 24.3 percent. (1) When you smoke or ingest marijuana, it’s the THC that gives you the high feeling – and the more THC you have, the more powerful the high.

While there are no confirmed fatal cases of consuming too much marijuana, there are plenty of people that have experienced the opposite of the giggly, euphoric state, that people often associate with this plant – many have experienced a ‘bad trip’ that may be powerful enough to turn people off from this plant. 

This makes us wonder, is it possible to overdose on marijuanna?

There are many limitations when it comes to detecting marijuana in your system since it only stays in the bloodstream for a short time. While marijuana use can be indicated in both blood, urine and saliva tests, unlike blood alcohol concentration, these tests do not indicate a level of intoxication or impairment.  

When it comes to a potential overdose on marijuana, there is no clear definition, since the effects of marijuana are all over the map. There are over 100 different types of cannabinoids, in addition to CBD and THC, and each strain within the indica and sativa families can provide truly unique effects. For someone who is sensitive to THC, and is not a daily user, too much THC can cause some pretty scary side effects. 

Here are some examples of THC toxicity reports, which have been published:

  • Psychosis or Paranoia: Users have reported severe psychotic episodes with hallucinations. In some cases, the psychosis can last significantly longer than the amount of time that it should take to process the THC. (2)
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Although THC often provides anti-nausea properties, there are many cases of weed induced vomiting (3)
  • Heart Arrhythmias: While these cases are said to be under-reported, an onset of arrhythmias can begin within a few minutes of smoking cannabis, reaching a peak within 30 minutes, but can persist for longer than 90 minutes. (4)

A Look at Edibles

Consuming edibles in the form of brownies, cookies, chocolates, candies and other tasty goods may seem like an innocent way to enjoy the effects of cannabis, however, the experience of edibles can be a lot more potent than smoking the plant. Method of consumption makes all the difference, and THC in the form of edibles is metabolized differently than when it’s inhaled. Levels of THC can vary and oftentimes is not standardized even between edibles from the same batch. 

Effects of smoking marijuana are almost instant, while it takes much longer to absorb the THC through the digestive tract. This can lead the user to think that they didn’t get enough, and suddenly the user will reach for more. When the effects finally kick in, there are many cases when people cannot handle the effects of their edibles, and they end up in their bed, or on a trip to the emergency room.

The Increase in Marijuana Use

As this plant is legalized in many states and countries, its recreational use has respectively increased. Looking at the state of Oregan, when cannabis was first legalized there, the number of dispensaries doubled. With an increase of consumption, there’s also been an increase in marijuana-induced emergency department visits.

States such as Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C. all allow the recreational consumption of marijuana. For many middle-aged adults who are now exploring marijuana again, and haven’t used it since their college days, we should be reminded again that the product is not the same, it’s far stronger now. For those who are looking to explore recreational cannabis, they should seek strain which are lower in THC.

While marijuana is known to have low toxicity and is undoubtedly less harmful than alcohol and illicit party drugs. The debate on marijuana and overdose is still in discussion, there isn’t really a clear answer on how much pot is too much. Something does not have to lead to death to be an overdose. 

While many states and countries have legalized its use, just because cannabis is natural, doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Luckily because of legalization, more research is being done every day – and knowledge is power. 


  1. What Are the Strongest Cannabis Strains?https://www.leafly.ca/news/strains-products/what-are-the-strongest-cannabis-strains
  2. High-potency cannabis and the risk of psychosishttps://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/highpotency-cannabis-and-the-risk-of-psychosis/496BC36BD5837360498391D7143305EA
  3. Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/cannabinoid-hyperemesis-syndrome.html
  4. Cardiovascular complications induced by cannabis smoking: a case report and review of the literature https://emj.bmj.com/content/22/9/679