“Greening Out” – What’s happening when a trip goes wrong?

“Greening Out” – What’s happening when a trip goes wrong?

It may come as a surprise to some of the readers of the blog, but we are fans of cannabis here. Shocking, we know. And while we will go out of our way to talk about the benefits of this magnificent plant, we should always be mindful about our consumption habits.

If you are a regular cannabis consumer (or are becoming one), eventually you or someone you know will “Green Out.” In the simplest of terms, Greening Out is when you have consumed too much cannabis too fast, and the effects go from wonderful to unpleasant.


“You look a little pale…”

What are the signs of Greening Out? If you suddenly feel nauseous, dizzy, overly anxious, and/or sweaty, you are probably Greening Out. These effects can hit you all at once, one at a time, and to varying intensities. Really, everyone’s Greening Out experience is unique to them.

All of these effects are internal ones, so how can you know when a friend is Greening Out? Ironically, not by seeing if they turn green (although, as noted, nausea is one of the effects of too much cannabis consumption). The earliest signifier usually is their complexion, though: people who are Greening Out tend to become really pale, and start sweating a lot.

So what should you do when you or a friend are Greening Out? Here are some quick tips:

Find a buddy. Have someone a bit more sober stay with you and watch you in case something goes off the rails.

Go to your safe space. This doesn’t have to be a particular spot, but just find a quiet place where you can sit down and ride the effects out. It also helps to keep a bucket nearby (for the pre-mentioned nausea).

Stay calm. As far as we know, nobody has ever died from cannabis overconsumption. So as awful as you feel, and as anxious as you’ll get, just remember that you will make it through and you will be fine.


Cannabis Overconsumption

Cannabis is a drug that causes psychoactive effects when it interacts with your body, which means that it’s possible to overconsume cannabis to the point where you get negative effects. In the simplest terms, this is what happened when you Green Out.

As we’ve mentioned before, cannabis is made up of dozens of chemical compounds called cannabinoids, which connect to cannabinoid sensors around your body. When you get high, you are actively triggering these sensors, when your body would naturally trigger them on its own.

It turns out that pressing those buttons in your brain once in a while is ok and feels good, but pressing that button too much is not good. Your body will start to “panic,” making you feel nauseous (your body’s attempt to get rid of whatever is causing it to act in an abnormal way), dizzy, and anxious.

But stay calm. As we’ve mentioned before, there have been no documented deaths from Greening Out. There have been deaths when people start panicking and put themselves in dangerous situations after overconsuming cannabis, but as long as you remember to stay calm and stay put, you will be fine.


How can I avoid Greening Out?

There’s that old saying: Everything in Moderation. It’s a good one to follow when consuming cannabis, especially as a novice smoker. Knowing your limit and staying within it is an important way to stay safe while getting high. And just like alcohol, the potency matters – don’t think that two puffs of a strain with 10% THC is the same as two puffs of a strain that’s 18% THC.

There are other factors, too. There hasn’t been a huge amount of research into cannabis overconsumption, but there are studies that suggest that consuming alcohol along with cannabis is a fast-track to Greening Out. Alcohol may allow THC to bond with the cannabinoid receptors much faster, which would result in a much more potent high, and a greater chance of Greening Out. So don’t mix your substances!


Further Reading

Here’s a Vice interview with Dr. Freddy Vista that deals with the medical effects and dangers of overdoing your cannabis experience which is both an enjoyable and informative read.

And here’s a great document from Drug and Alcohol Research and Training, Australiaregarding what to do if one of your friends is Greening Out.

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