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Marijuana and alcohol are frequently used substances. With the increasing social acceptance of marijuana, it’s becoming more commonplace to combine it with alcohol. However, this combination can lead to a reaction known as “greening out,” which is when an individual feels sick due to excessive cannabis consumption. That being said, it is possible to green out without the use of alcohol. It is more common, though, for individuals to green out when combining alcohol and marijuana.

Although greening out is not considered to cause long-term harm, it can be a distressing and scary experience, particularly for younger individuals. Being aware of what greening out entails can aid in the safe use of alcohol and marijuana, as well as in appropriately responding to someone who is experiencing a cannabis overdose.

Although experiencing a green-out can heighten feelings of anxiety, it’s important to keep in mind that this condition doesn’t last forever and can be managed. Common triggers for greening out include consuming strong THC edibles or combining marijuana with alcohol. The key takeaway is not to panic: these symptoms generally subside within a few minutes to hours.

If you have questions about the use of medical marijuana, please feel free to contact any of our medical marijuana doctors in Florida.

What is Greening Out?

“Greening out” is frequently described as an overdose of cannabis. It occurs when an individual feels sick after consuming marijuana. Typical symptoms may include becoming pale, sweating excessively, feeling dizzy or experiencing vertigo, and in some instances, vomiting. In more extreme cases, the individual might even have a panic attack. The likelihood of greening out increases when marijuana is combined with alcohol.

Greening Out vs. Overdosing

Greening out can be viewed as an overdose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and increased senses typically associated with marijuana use. It’s difficult to conceive that THC, given its role in medical marijuana applications, could be behind the negative effects connected with greening out.

The endocannabinoid system regulates various biological systems including brain function, blood sugar levels, reproductive processes, the nervous system, and metabolism. Being a cannabinoid, THC has the ability to bind with CB1 receptors in the brain and influence serotonin levels. This interaction enables THC to alter consciousness states.

What Causes a Green Out?

Though greening out is more commonly seen in novice cannabis users, it’s relatively rare. It’s crucial to note that the mode of cannabis consumption doesn’t determine whether one will green out or not. Greening out can occur from dabbing, smoking, or ingesting cannabis if the THC concentrations are sufficiently high. Here at Cannabis Doctor X – Medical Marijuana Doctor, we will provide you with proper prescriptions and dosages so you will not need to worry about greening out. It is typically when using marijuana in an irresponsible way that this occurs.

It’s noteworthy that consuming cannabis orally causes a delayed onset of effects, but these effects also persist longer. This implies that greening out from THC edibles can happen, and the duration of the green-out effect could potentially be extended due to the delayed onset of effects.

Signs of Greening Out

You may be experiencing a green out if you have:

  • Feelings of nausea and episodes of vomiting
  • An elevated heart rate
  • Experiences of paranoia and anxiety
  • Heaviness in limbs, leading to reduced mobility
  • Dizziness 
  • Chills or breaking into sweats
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hallucinations, although this is uncommon.

How Long Does Greening Out Last?

Individual reactions to marijuana vary widely, and so does the duration of a green out. Some symptoms may be brief, lasting only a few minutes, while others could persist for hours. If you find yourself greening out, the optimal course of action is to stay composed and rest in a lying position.

Risks and Side Effects of Greening Out 

While greening out is unlikely to cause long-term issues, individuals with existing health conditions should exercise caution.

For those with a pre-existing heart condition, it’s recommended to steer clear of THC. This compound could potentially thin the blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure, and an accelerated heart rate, which might result in a critical medical emergency.

THC can also have adverse interactions with certain prescription medications, so it’s crucial to discuss potential drug interactions with your healthcare provider before consuming THC and/or CBD.

Hyperventilation is another common symptom associated with greening out. As high doses of THC prompt an increase in heart rate, your body may struggle to supply sufficient oxygen, making breathing difficult.

How to Handle Greening Out

If you’re experiencing a green out, it’s usually best to remove yourself from a stimulating environment: Seek out a calm area where you can lie down and let the experience pass. Should you encounter feelings of panic or disconnection from reality, the presence of a friend can be beneficial. A familiar face can provide reassurance that normality will soon resume. Some users have found relief from greening out symptoms through the consumption of sugary drinks.

For those who favor solutions backed by science, consider trying CBD oil. It may help alleviate the paranoia and anxiety often associated with excessive THC consumption.

Alcohol and Marijuana: Increased Risk for Greening Out?

Alcohol, being a depressant, can enhance the risks of alcohol poisoning and “greening out” when combined with marijuana.

Marijuana can interfere with the body’s reflex to vomit. Normally, if an individual consumes excessive amounts of alcohol, the body’s response is to induce vomiting to eliminate excess toxins and prevent further absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. If marijuana impedes this process, the person may face a heightened risk of alcohol poisoning.

“Greening out,” or falling ill due to excessive cannabis consumption, can also trigger a panic attack, worsening the symptoms. The likelihood of greening out increases if the person has already consumed alcohol. This is because alcohol promotes faster absorption of THC into the bloodstream. Consequently, the individual might experience a quicker and more potent high than expected, even if they’ve smoked what they consider to be a regular quantity of marijuana.

Should I Be Worried About Greening Out?

While greening out doesn’t typically pose health risks unless an individual has a pre-existing condition, it can lead to a negative association with cannabis. This could be problematic for those who use marijuana for medical management.

The most effective strategy to prevent greening out is to gradually build your THC tolerance. Begin with small doses and monitor your body’s response. Over time, this will help you understand your personal tolerance level.

Being mindful with edibles is another method to avoid greening out. As they take longer to kick in, you might continue to consume them, not realizing that each bite incrementally increases your THC dosage. Edibles rich in CBD are less likely to cause a green out, but overconsumption of CBD can still result in nausea and other side effects. Contact us today if you have any questions!