What To Do If You Get Too High

By Gooey Rabinski | September 15, 2015

It happens to even seasoned cannabis consumers: Getting too high and spun out. Symptoms involve paranoia, confusion, loss of coordination, and even feelings of dread. Sometimes users don’t anticipate the potency of edibles, concentrates, or even just straight up bud. With some boutique strains containing more than 25 percent THC and professional breeders and cultivators continually pushing the envelope on cannabis strength, many regular consumers of marijuana will eventually find themselves too high.

If it’s their first overindulgence, some may freak out a bit. This is especially true with sativa strains. Consuming too much of an indica will likely result in the munchies, couchlock, and eventually sleep. The cerebral high of a strong sativa, however, when it goes off the rails, can produce intense fear and anxiety bordering on panic, runaway thoughts, hyperactivity, and an inability to relax.

While less likely when smoking flowers, getting too amped is more common when consuming edibles or concentrates — especially if it is one’s first time and they’re made with a potent sativa. Given its virtual inevitability, what can be done to counteract going a bit too far and overloading one’s CB1 receptors with the most infamous of cannabinoids, THC?

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First, a little knowledge goes a long way, especially when one of the primary reactions to the state of being too high is anxiety. In the immortal words of author Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!” The mere knowledge that, as each minute passes, one’s high abates and things get better, is sometimes enough to deliver the calm necessary to ride the wave until the peak passes.

Second, keep some black pepper on hand. This technique, made famous by rocker Neil Young, is purported to be truly effective. When on the Howard Stern radio show in 2014, Young told Stern, who said he quit smoking cannabis years ago due to paranoia:

“Just chew two or three pieces. I just found this out myself. Try it.”

The reason black pepper does the trick is because it contains ample quantities of myrcene and beta-caryophyllene (also known as BCP), two terpenes that act as mild sedatives and serve to buffer the effects of THC.

Third, try lemon juice or lemonade — preferably freshly squeezed. Like black pepper, terpenes present in the lemon are the magic ingredient, again serving to modulate the effects of the THC. In fact, this strategy has been recommended since the 10th century, when a Persian doctor prescribed the consumption of acidic fruits to counteract the high of cannabis and hash. If one needs an extra boost of come-down juice, throw a slice or two of lemon rind — which contains more limonene than any other part of the fruit.

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Less effective remedies, which should be considered supplements to lemon or black pepper, include hydration (not with beer or liquor, but water), eating, taking a walk (if one is able without stumbling or falling down), and listening to soothing music. In the end, the best solution to overindulgence in the kind herb, especially for those new to cannabis or just a particular form of it (like edibles or concentrates), is “start low, go slow.” This is especially true when consuming cannabis and edibles from the black market, when strains and potency are typically unknown — let alone exact percentages of cannabinoids like THC and CBD and major terpenes like myrcene.

The problem of cannabis overindulgence will gradually decrease as more states legalize and regulated dispensaries and retail outlets work with professional laboratories to analyze and accurately label marijuana. Knowing the percentage of psychoactive cannabinoids like THC and receiving the advice of seasoned budtenders goes a long way toward preventing this problem. Like many things in life, prevention is the best medicine. Well, make that the second best medicine….

Gooey Rabinski

Gooey Rabinski is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana.

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