THC Overdose

What is THC?

THC is a chemical substance, which is obtained from the cannabis plant. It is one of the major cannabinoids. Chemically THC is also known as Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is responsible for predisposing psychological effect obtain from the flower or bud of the female cannabis plant. (1,2)

THC Overdose

Why THC provides a psychological effect?

The chemical structure of the THC is readily fitted within the neurotransmitters and reached to the particular sites of the brain. The involved brain sites are hippocampus (exerting memory related effect), the frontal cortex (thinking center), and the cerebellum (controlling the movement). All together these cell sites have “cannabinoid receptors” and the whole system is known as endocannabinoid system.. THC binds to these cannabinoid receptors and impel chemical alteration due to chemical reactions. This negatively impacts behavior and cognitive ability. (1,2)

Why THC not readily recommended for human use?

THC like substance is secreted from the human body naturally and named as anandamide, though the detail knowledge about this is not well described. Modern scientific report described that anandamide is a chemical substance that facilitates us to forget clutter and allocate the brain space to remember only the essential events and things.(2)

Abuse of THC

Cannabis or marijuana are famous for their abusing effect. Abusers often inhale the smoke of the dried leaves to get hallucinated and euphoric effect of the Cannabis. It is expected that the habit forming effect of the Cannabis is due to presence of THC. (2)

Short term side effects of THC

After inhaling the smoke of the marijuana, often people experience following side effects and may lasts for 3hours

  • Extremely feeling sleepy
  • Vertigo
  • Red eyes
  • Increased thirst due to dry mouth
  • Fits of snigger
  • Euphoria
  • Increased hunger
  • Tachycardia (heart rate become increased)
  • Off-center time sense; usually time appear to slow down
  • Motor function reduced

After oral ingestion of THC, the onset of effect starts within 30minutes to two hours to obtain full effect of THC. The intensity of the psychoactive effects gradually increased after onset effects started. Other than oral route, if the THC consumed in different formulation, then the effect is usually increased.

Cannabis has different species, and the effect may slightly vary depending upon the species from where THC is extracted.

The experience after taking THC also varies individual to individual, like some feels peace in the mind after taking THC, whereas other may report totally contrast experience. (2,5)

Long term Side effect of THC

The detail knowledge about the long term effect of the THC is still under research process, but it has been identified that short term memory loss is associated with chronic habitual effect of THC. Some study revealed that THC has a potential to increase the psychotic episodes, especially for individual has tendency towards schizophrenia, though this statement has debatable approach. (2,5)

Overdose of THC

The different edible preparation like cookie of THC is now available in the different countries including USA. Young individual often take more than the recommended dose and affected with overdose effect of THC. (1)

The factors contributing of THC overdose

The role of contributory factors which increase the risk of THC overdose are discussed below:

The route of administration

  • In inhalation route the psychological effects starts within 10 minutes due to easy reaching of the systemic circulation. The effect is extremely feel within 30 to 90 minutes, after peak blood concentration and the effect is abolished within 2 to 3 hours, due to fast elimination from the physiological system of the body.
  • In oral route, the effect begins in between 30 to 90 minutes, which represents delayed onset of action in contrast with inhalation route. The THC reach its peak concentration after 3 hours and the effects last for 4 to 12 hours, due to delayed elimination. This time range varies due to unique physiology system of individual.

Habituation of THC use

Some individual is chronic in using THC due to addictive effect of THC. THC also produce tolerance and cause delayed onset of action and intensity of action also less in compare with inexperienced individual. Therefore, often chronic users require high dose of THC and risk of overdose is also increased.

Dose of THC

No standardized dose is yet determined for THC in marijuana products. Different products has different quantity of THC. Children often affected with overdose of THC, as unintentionally they often take marijuana products and non-standardized dose even cause barrier of the effective treatment for them. (2, 5)

Law and legislation on THC use

To control the overdose effects, Colorado legislators approved a act in 2014, in which fix on 100mg THC should contain in any marijuana edible product available in USA and that should be child proof.

In addition, four selected states of USA including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where marijuana product is restricted for less than 21 years age group people.

It has been also suggested by different policy makers that marijuana should exclude from the schedule 1 drug list. (1, 3, 4, 5)

Detection Test of THC overdose

The urine test can detect the addictive nature of the individual against THC, as finding of THC-COOH, the metabolite of THC present in urine of the chronic users. This metabolites are excrete through urine for 3 to 14 days for occasional to light consumers, but for chronic users this metabolite is present more than 60 days. increase water intake also not able to flash out completely THC metabolites. (2)


  1. Alina Bradford (2015); What is THC? Retrieve from:
  2. Anna Wilcox, (2015); What is THC? Retrieve from:
  3.  The ‘lows’ of edible marijuana, (2015); Retrieve from:
  4. Kim Bellware (2015); Here’s How Many People Fatally Overdosed On Marijuana Last Year; Retrieve from:
  5. AVANEESH PANDEY (2015); Marijuana Overdose Through Pot Edibles A Cause For Concern, Says CDC; Retrieve from:

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