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According to Health Canada, the primary adverse side effects of Cannabis/Marihuana/Marijuana are1:

  • dizziness, drowsiness, feeling faint or lightheaded, fatigue, headache;
  •  impaired memory and disturbances in attention, concentration and ability to think and make decisions;
  • disorientation, confusion, feeling drunk, feeling abnormal or having abnormal thoughts, feeling “too high”, feelings of unreality, feeling an extreme slowing of time;
  • suspiciousness, nervousness, episodes of anxiety resembling a panic attack, paranoia (loss of contact with reality), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that do not exist);
  • impairments in motor skills and perception, altered bodily perceptions, loss of full control of bodily movements, falls;
  • dry mouth, throat irritation, coughing;
  • worsening of seizures;
  • hypersensitivity reactions (contact dermatitis/hives);
  • higher or lower blood levels of certain medications;
  • nausea, vomiting;
  • fast heartbeat

WAIT. The above adverse side effects also resemble those of a Panic Attack. It is common, after ingesting Cannabis, to recognize a change in ones motor abilities,  psychological perception (time, light, space etc.), alteration of physical sensation etc.. While these adverse effects can take place and be alarming, the same can occur with over the counter analgesic pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol and anti-nausea medications like Gravol.

Remember: “Greening Out” should NOT veer one away from using Cannabis as a form of medication. NO ONE has ever died from being too high. While what your feeling may be unpleasant – it is not dangerous.

If you find yourself “Greening Out”:

1.)  Relax

  • frogs-1644927_960_720Sit down (we recommend you do not stand up and pace, nor lay down if this increases your sense of vertigo and/or nausea) If you are tired, “sleeping it off” can be the solution to feeling TOO high.
  • Know with certainly that the intense feeling you are encountering will pass. Again, NO ONE has ever died from being too high. While the sensation may be unpleasant – it is not dangerous. 
  • Breathe: In 4 Seconds, Hold 7 Seconds, Out 8 Seconds. Remember to maintain slow, full breaths at a a consistent, comfortable pace.     

2.)  Hydrate

  • Water, juice, cold/hot; hydration is key! Having a drink on hand will combat adverse effects such as dry mouth, and is a basic familiar act to focus on. “Greening Out” is like getting the hiccups – deep breaths, slow sips = decrease in spasm and good distraction.
  • Citrus drinks with Limonene disables and inhibits the effects of Cannabis. If you’re “Greening Out”, lemon juice, the zest from a lime, or a glass of grapefruit juice will do wonders. (Read here to learn more about Citrus and Cannabis)
  • DO NOT combine alcoholic beverages with Cannabis. Alcohol has been proven to significantly increase THC blood concentrations and can significantly further decrease your motor-visual skills (ergo, your ability to drive a vehicle or handle large machinery).2,3

3.) Distractions

  • Fresh Air: Some people find that their mind begins to race and they can’t “turn my brain off”. A change of scenery, still within a realm of familiarity, is a great way to distract yourself and possibly enjoy some of the effects of Cannabis. Fresh air, along with an increase in blood circulation, can also help boost your energy from any lethargic side effects brought on by Cannabis. *DO NOT venture off if you are
    feeling too anxious/paranoid, and refrain from leaving your home if you are experiencing increased light-headedness and/or feeling faint. Fresh Air can be accomplished by opening a window as well!frogs-897981_960_720
  • Art & Entertainment: You can calm your Central Nervous System (responsible for relaying the negative physical & psychological effects of Cannabis) by enjoying familiar forms of recreation that stimulate happy neurological responses. We do not recommend you partake in a new activity that may trigger further panic (Ex. Do not watch a scary movie if you don’t like being scared!) Some examples include, but are not limited to : watching a funny T.V show/movie, listening to music, playing a board/video/computer game, partaking in common meditative practices such as knitting, adult colouring books, other arts and crafts of interest, reading, etc.
  • Black Pepper : Who would of thought? Indeed though, pain is a great way to distract yourself from “Greening Out”. Neil Young swears that crunching down on a couple black pepper corns distracts him from any Cannabis induced paranoia or anxiety 5. When it comes down to the chemicals in the brain, according to a scientific review published by Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology, cannabis and pepper have very similar chemical traits; combining the terpenoids (such as beta-caryophyllene) in pepper, with the tetrahydrocannabinol in Cannabis, has a synergistic chemical reaction on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Therefore, when combined, Cannabis and black pepper have a therapeutic calming effect 4. So, grind a few peppercorns and take a whiff; sneezing may occur.

tomatoes-1277845_960_720

4.)  Eat Something

  • When you eat food, there will be a decrease in the net biophysical effect of THC-enriched blood in your brain. This is because the blood in your body is rushing to your stomach and digestive track for digestion and absorption of what you are now consuming. In turn, you will have a decrease in the psychological effects of THC and the duration of the your high will decrease.
  • If the act of cooking is familiar and something you take pleasure in, then this could be the ultimate solution for you! Relax and indulge in the munchies.                           

5.)  Be In Good Company

  • If you know anyone who is familiar with the effects of Cannabis and is a good frog-1498909_960_720friend, reach out! Sharing your “Greening Out”experience, along with having company of someone else during your unfamiliar/unwanted “high”, can be reassuring to your nerves and reduce unwanted psychological/social side effects.
  • Remember to ask: what you need, what you don’t want/need, what you think will help. Some patients have been fortunate enough to have friends who will call every half hour until the adverse side effects ware off. Asking for reassurance is OK!

 

Things To Remember:

  • Slow and Steady Wins the Race: take your time between each dose. Different strains of Cannabis can have effects surface slowly or hit you hard and heavy; pace yourself and do not rush your consumption sessions. Packing in too much THC in a short period of time usually is the culprit to that uncomfortable feeling of “Greening Out”.
  • Proper Time & Place: if you do not know how Cannabis effects you and/or are not fully aware of your surroundings and company, we suggest you consume this medication in a safe and known environment. We do not want you feeling effects such as sudden fatigue or anxiety in an environment you do not know, surrounded by people you are not familiar with. We suggest you dose in your home, during a time when you have few demands on yourself.
  • Become Familiar with Your Limits: edibles can begin to take effect anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion! Gaining insight and understanding your own tolerance for active cannabinoids is something that takes time. So again, back to time, place and pacing yourself. With edibles, best start off with a quarter, then half, and increase doses slowly.
  • Know When to Stop! Everyone has a different tolerance and social environments can sometimes make you lose track of how much you are consuming. Do not forget that each individual has a different threshold, feels the onset of effects at different times, and are consuming for different reasons and symptom relief. What you eat, how hydrated you are, what mood you are in, how much sleep you’ve had – these ALL have an effect on how you will feel and how Cannabis will effect you.

To Mary Jane & The Avoidance of Feeling Green

 

1http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/alt_formats/pdf/marihuana/info/cons-eng.pdf

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11543984

3http://time.com/3899426/cannabis-alcohol-thc-car-crash-drug-safety-driving/

4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/

5http://www.therooster.com/blog/keep-calm-and-listen-neil-youngs-advice-how-cure-weed-paranoia

6http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/phobias-and-panic-disorders/#.V-lNhaIrJFQ

7http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/panic-attacks-and-panic-disorders.htm

8http://www.anxietymagic.com/symptoms-of-a-panic-attack