What is ‘Greening Out’? Plus, Some Common Greening Out Symptoms
Photo by RDNE Stock Project
Consuming marijuana is something millions across the U.S. (and the world) enjoy. In fact, in 2021, 13% of Americans reported using cannabis in the past month. If you’re one of these regular smokers of the green stuff, you may wonder, “What is greening out?”
Greening out is the closest thing marijuana has to an “overdose.” Even though it’s not technically an overdose in the traditional sense, it can still be uncomfortable if it happens to you.
This guide answers questions like “What is greening out?” and “Is greening out dangerous?”
What Does ‘Greened Out’ Mean?
When consuming more weed than you can handle, greening out is the experience of nausea and general unease. The simplest way to view a green out is that the effects of your pot have become too much for your body, which is reacting by producing symptoms like dizziness and nausea.
The green-out meaning can have a different meaning for different people as everyone may experience contrasting and conflicting symptoms. For this reason, it’s vital that you know your limits to avoid incurring any of these effects.
Although experiencing a greenout can be distressing, which is why most experience increased anxiety, this is always a temporary state and manageable at home without outside intervention.
Typically, most instances of greening out occur due to consuming edibles, such as brownies, or mixing alcohol with your cannabis. The latter is a particularly regular culprit. According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study into marijuana intoxication, it was found that the level of intoxication increased on days when participants consumed alcohol concurrently.
Now that you know what does it mean to green out, how long does greening out last?
According to the Orlando Recovery Center, symptoms can last as little as a few minutes, whereas some people may require a few hours to recover.
Some of the factors that can influence how long your green-out could last include the following:
- Amount of alcohol/weed consumed.
- Presence of other drugs in your system.
- Personal tolerance levels.
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Is Greening Out Overdosing?
If you’re wondering, “What is greening out like?” you might think you have overdosed, but this isn’t true. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, nobody has ever overdosed and died because of consuming too much THC.
In other words, it’s impossible to overdose on cannabis. So, what is greening out, and how does it work?
In short, scientists aren’t sure why smoking too much weed causes the symptoms it does. The only sure thing is that combining substances like alcohol and weed magnifies both potency.
Some of the reasons floated for greening out include:
- High Potency – Consuming large doses of THC, which is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, may overwhelm the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), which can lead to greater intensity of marijuana’s effects.
- THC Sensitivity – Some people are more sensitive to THC than others. For example, some individuals suffer from Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), a rare condition resulting in extreme symptoms from consuming cannabis.
- Inexperience – Those with less experience with cannabis are likelier to green out because their bodies may not be accustomed to the effects of THC in the bloodstream.
- Anxiety/Stress – Some scientists have hypothesized that people who are already anxious or stressed can see their symptoms exacerbated by cannabis use.
So, is greening out bad? It’s a temporary affliction that can be uncomfortable but unlikely to lead to severe problems. In other words, the best option is to stop consuming cannabis and wait out your symptoms at home.
Photo by RDNE Stock Project
Are There Any Greening Out Long-Term Effects to Worry About?
Getting out of a green out is always a relief, but what does greening out mean regarding its long-term effects?
As with the concept generally, scientists understand little about the potential long-term effects of getting greened out. Once again, several potential correlations have been highlighted, but more research is required to understand cannabis intoxication fully.
Note that most of the below long-term effects are related to regular, heavy cannabis consumption, which increases the likelihood of green outs but is unrelated to the phenomenon itself.
- Anxiety Disorders – One study highlighted that chronic THC consumption could increase the prevalence of anxiety disorders. This could mean triggering an existing condition more often or worsening it. In some cases, it could even lead to the development of a new disorder.
- Cognitive Impairment – Long-term impacts of regular green outs may lead to cognitive impairment, such as forgetfulness. It’s believed the risk is heightened among adolescent smokers due to their brains still developing.
- Dependence and Withdrawal – Even though cannabis is not chemically addictive, it can lead to a behavioral addiction without control. Smokers with regular green outs are likelier to be heavy users, which could lead to dependence and eventual Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS).
Of course, most cannabis smokers will eventually experience a green out. For example, if a regular smoker finds themselves at a house party, they may be offered a beer while a joint is being passed around, increasing the chances of a green out.
But no concrete evidence shows that significant cannabis intoxication leads to long-term health complications.
Common Greening Out Symptoms
What is greened out, and what symptoms can you expect to experience?
As mentioned, everybody is different. But several symptoms commonly pop up in green-out scenarios. Here are some symptoms to look for if you’re worried about greening out.
Marijuana is famous for helping with nausea. Everyone has heard the evidence that medical marijuana can be beneficial for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. But too much can have the opposite effect.
In extreme cases of intoxication, such as if you’ve downed a six-pack, this may evolve into vomiting.
Feeling dizzy and unsteady on your feet is a common symptom for anyone who has consumed high-potency green-out carts or a selection of brownies.
During a green-out, it can often feel like the world is spinning around you while you remain still. Many people become locked to their couches when this happens.
Photo by Jessica Ticozzelli
Paranoia is another common side effect of being high. So, just because you feel paranoid doesn’t mean you’re having a green out.
However, if you’re not used to getting paranoid, you may be experiencing a green out. Moreover, another sign of paranoia-related symptoms is if you become jumpy in the face of movement or sounds.
Anxiety is like nausea in that smaller doses of marijuana can help combat it. However, high doses of THC can lead to anxiety.
This effect may be compounded if you already have an anxiety-related disorder or are going through a stressful time.
Increased Heart Rate
An accelerated heart rate is another common side effect of consuming THC. But too much can make you feel like your heart is about to thump out of your chest. This can be one of the most worrying symptoms of all.
The scientific community believes this effect occurs due to changes in the blood vessels. In the Handbook of Experimental Psychology, it’s believed that THC dilates the blood vessels to increase heart rate while simultaneously reducing blood pressure.
If you’re worried about your greening-out heart rate, remember that this is a temporary effect, and there’s no proof of any cardiovascular damage caused by green outs.
Other Symptoms of a Green Out
Most people experiencing a green out will find that most of their symptoms are no more than super-powered versions of the side effects of smoking a joint. These symptoms include:
- Dry mouth
- Respiratory problems
- Panic attacks
What to Do When Someone is Greening Out
Now that you know what is greening out, what should you do if a fellow smoker is experiencing one?
Even though they’re in no medical danger, there are several steps that you can take to make them feel more comfortable and wait out the storm. Follow these tips to support a fellow stoner in need:
- Stay calm and reassure them that everything is going to be okay.
- Find a comfortable place for them to recover. Reduce the number of external stimuli as much as possible.
- Give them some water. They must stay hydrated to alleviate dry mouth.
- Encourage them to breathe deeply to reduce their anxiety and stress.
- Try to keep the person engaged by talking to them so that they can avoid focusing on their symptoms.
- Avoid any further cannabis use, whether joints, brownies, or carts, as it will only worsen it.
- Get them to lie down. Green-out symptoms tend to improve when they are not at risk of becoming dizzier or more light-headed.
Photo by Liza Summer
Know What You’re Smoking – Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card Today
Although greening out is a scary situation, the symptoms are temporary. Avoiding a green out is best served by smoking high-quality cannabis at a dosage you can handle.
At Green Health Docs, we support our customers in gaining access to top-tier medical cannabis in their states. If you’re wondering whether you qualify for an online MMJ card, contact Green Health Docs today.
FAQs About Greening Out
Can you green out from edibles?
Yes, how you consume cannabis is irrelevant. Green outs are a result of the THC inside. People point to edibles as one of the most common culprits because they contain higher concentrations of cannabis than gummies and joints.
Can you green out on CBD?
No, because cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. More CBD is often helpful for averting green outs because it counters the effects of THC.
What does greening out look like?
Greening out resembles marijuana intoxication to a greater degree. If you notice that someone appears to be experiencing an overreaction to marijuana, it could be a sign that they are experiencing a green-out.
Can you die from greening out on weed?
No, you cannot die from greening out. However, what matters is that you protect someone who is greening out. For example, if someone is experiencing a green out and decides to drive home, this could put their lives at risk.
Should I seek medical attention for a green-out?
Medical attention isn’t necessary for someone experiencing a green out. Unfortunately, no medicines can counteract the effects of a green out. The only way to get through to the other side is to wait it out and learn from your experiences.
Doctors and nurses would only do the same things as you would at home, such as forcing you to lie down and giving you a glass of water.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.