What Is Greening Out & How Can You Help Someone Who’s Too High?
Greening out, or whiting out, refers to a very uncomfortable set of symptoms you can get when you consume too much cannabis. After consuming too much weed, people can turn pale, white, or green—hence the phrase “greening out.”
While it usually happens if you consume cannabis after drinking alcohol, you can green out simply by having marijuana on an empty stomach or going way too far over your limit, which can happen if it’s your first time smoking weed or you got distracted and forgot how much you had.
If you feel like you’re greening out or notice that one of your bud buddies is looking a little worse for wear, understanding what’s happening and how to deal with it can help you feel more in control.
Symptoms of Greening Out
Getting too high and greening out are slightly different. If you’re too high, you might simply be experiencing couchlock or having mild hallucinations. When you’re greening out, however, you’re likely to experience:
Chills and sweats
Increased heart rate
Low blood pressure
What’s actually happening inside your body is that THC—the psychoactive component of marijuana—is overwhelming the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, causing an over-stimulation of the feel-good neurotransmitters and dilation of blood vessels. It’s essentially a THC overdose.
Paradoxically, consuming cannabis therapeutically can actually help with nausea and vomiting, which is why medical marijuana is often prescribed for chemotherapy patients. It’s simply a matter of dosage (low vs high) and your personal tolerance to THC.
How Long Does It Take to Pass?
Negative effects from the over-consumption of THC usually come on within a few minutes to a few hours and can last for as long as the high. Smoking and dabbing lead to more rapid absorption, so you could feel high or green out within minutes. Edible highs often take 30-90 minutes to come on and can last for up to 24 hours.
Is Greening Out Life-Threatening?
If you’re healthy and the only thing you had was cannabis, greening out won’t actually hurt you. However, if you’ve been mixing substances (combining marijuana with alcohol, hard drugs, medications, or sleeping pills) or have an underlying heart condition or high blood pressure, consuming too much cannabis can be fatal.
When you’re smoking weed with friends and someone starts greening out, find out:
Do they have a heart condition or high blood pressure?
Do they take any medications, including sleeping pills?
Did they drink alcohol before they ingested cannabis?
Did they mix marijuana with hard drugs?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” call 9-1-1 straight away and tell the paramedics everything you know. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
How to Help a Friend Who Has Consumed Too Much Cannabis
Ok, so you’re smoking some high-quality Seattle pre-rolls with friends when you notice someone starting to turn pale, breathing rapidly, and getting freaked out. You know this person doesn’t have a heart condition, doesn’t take any medications, and all they did was smoke weed.
Take the person to a safe space, away from crowds, loud music, and bright lights. Lay them down so that they don’t have to worry about dizziness or fainting and encourage them to take deep breaths.
Offer water to keep them hydrated, or some fruit juice if their blood sugar is low. Water can help with dry mouth, which is a normal side effect of THC but can be more pronounced when greening out.
Help them manage psychological symptoms by offering reassurance that you’re there and everything’s going to be ok. Just knowing that someone is there can help tremendously with feelings of panic.
Put on their favorite music, a low-key movie, or a funny TV show. Staying distracted can help with feelings of anxiety, especially when it’s impossible to sleep.
Offer lemon rinds and whole black pepper for them to chew on. Lemon rinds contain limonene and black pepper contains beta-caryophyllene. Both can help people sober up after ingesting too much THC.
Give them a snack like toast, fruit, or carrot sticks. Greening out can happen when cannabis consumers smoke or ingest edibles on an empty stomach, and food always helps.
If there’s any CBD oil handy, offer it to the person who’s gotten too high. CBD changes the way that THC binds with cannabinoid receptors, helping to tame any adverse effects.
When they’re coming out of their altered state, take the person outside for some fresh air and a leisurely walk. This can be a good distraction, especially if they feel sick.
Make sure that the person doesn’t drive or operate machinery until they are completely sober. While getting too high on its own isn’t dangerous, cannabis consumption before driving increases the risk of motor accidents.
Preventing Marijuana Green Outs
While everyone makes mistakes sometimes, it’s usually possible (and preferable) to prevent greening out before it occurs. Smoking or consuming cannabis can be an amazing experience when it’s done right, and there’s no need to overdose.
To prevent greening out:
Consult with a doctor before consuming marijuana if you have a medical condition or take prescription pills.
Start with a mild strain if it’s your first time smoking weed.
When smoking, have just a little bit and wait an hour before having more.
Check the dose when consuming edibles, start with 3 mg, and wait for a couple of hours before having another piece.
If you make cannabis cookies at home, calculate the dosage per cookie before you start chowing down.
Avoid situations where there might be peer pressure to overconsume.
Go easy when consuming very potent marijuana strains.
If you must combine alcohol and marijuana, have the marijuana first and wait to see how high you are before deciding to have some wine or beer.
See It as a Learning Experience
If you consume cannabis with love and care, it can become your best friend. And even if you had a bad trip or ended up greening out and vomiting all over the floor, take it as a learning experience and come back next time a little wiser for it.
It’s important to realize that every individual will react differently to cannabis, and what’s an ideal dose or strain for one person could be too much—or too little—for someone else. Respect your limits, respect the bud, and if you or a friend has too much, rest assured that “this too shall pass.”