Concerned About CBD Overdose? [When THC Becomes Lethal]


All medicine can heal or harm and, while our products contain only skin conditioning cannabidiol (CBD) and not tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is important to understand the potential risks associated with cannabis as the laws and regulations change for medical and recreational use.

In partial thanks to a near-long century prohibition, patients rarely understand the various compounds and complexity of this ancient plant, raising legitimate questions and concerns. Is it safe? Can I overdose on it? What’s the difference between medical marijuana and THC? What’s the difference between cbd overdose and THC overdose? The questions are endless.

To complicate matters, the recent legalization of cannabis in the United States, without adequate education to support consumers, there have been reports on increased hospital visits associated with cannabis since its legalization in Colorado. These hospitalizations have been largely due to hyperemesis syndrome (nausea and cyclic vomiting) and psychosis from marked overconsumption of edibles.

Then there are anecdotal reports of people fainting on overconsumption, which have been linked to a sudden drop in blood pressure or blood sugar.

All of this against the backdrop of opiate addiction across the nation leaves patients rightfully concerned.

However, the short answer is that the risks of complications with THC are considered quite low for the general population. If your patients have a psychiatric condition, heart condition, or other serious condition; they should take caution nonetheless.

For this reason, we have created an educational article to help you better speak with your clients or patients.

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What is THC?

The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, but cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol are the most extensively researched and acclaimed. In our article, How Does CBD Work with the Body, we discuss their distinctions at length.

THC is the compound that triggers images of stoned hippies and space cowboys. With its renowned mind-altering effects, tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound that drug tests assess for and that we avoid in our products, in order to stay safe and legal.

Can THC Be Lethal?

A fatal overdose solely due to marijuana is highly unlikely, but it is not entirely inconceivable.

The report Sudden unexpected death under acute influence of cannabis investigated the passing of two young men. They concluded: “Death occurred due to acute global cardiac failure under the acute influence of cannabis.” However, the authors note in the end that “One could also consider a significant but subclinical arterial hypertonia that might have been worsened by smoking cannabis, potentially leading to a hypertensive crisis.”

For these reasons, if your patient has cardiovascular disease or pulmonary disease, encourage him or her to consult a specialist.

However, the risks are quite different for the average population. The lethal dose for 50% of the population (LD50) is believed to be considerably high.

The exact results are controversial given that human research hasn’t been pursued for obvious reasons. However, animal studies provide insight into the possibilities.

The amount of THC that kills 50% of animals therefore varies: 40mg/kg culls rats, while for dogs and monkeys the lethal dose is 130mg/kg.

As we move up the evolutionary chain, higher living beings require larger doses to cause a cataclysmic biological reaction.

Some researchers believe that the LD50 is in the range of 600-1200 mg per kg (2.2lbs) of the adult user’s body weight, while others suggest much lower rates in the range of 30-60 mg. To put this in perspective, the LD50 of caffeine is 150-200 mg, approximately 75-120 cups of coffee. Similarly, patients smoking marijuana would need to smoke somewhere around 20,0000-40,000 joints in about 15-30 minutes to reach LD50.

If anyone gets anywhere close to those numbers, the Guiness World Records will surely be on their trail. Moreover, the extreme psychosis that would occur with such high doses of THC would likely intrude before the patient could reach the lethal dose, however psychotic episodes could potentially cause a person to make life-threatening choices. But with dose-dependent, time frame concerns and the public’s interest in finding new ways to consuming marijuana, like “dabs,” “waxes,” etc., it is worth mentioning the risks to your patients.

Additionally, patients taking blood thinners like Warfarin must heed caution. The research is limited, but it suggests that there could be a dose-dependent reaction to cannabinoids. In other words, those taking blood thinners should not consume cannabinoids in excess, because cannabis already thins the blood.

A lethal acute dose is not the only way that THC can be deadly; there are possible short and long term sequela. Cardiovascular problems include systemic vasodilation, tachycardia, and cardiac death in those with a preexisting condition. When smoking is the chosen route, respiratory issues may include chronic bronchitis, destruction of lung tissue, elevated risk of emphysema, inflammation of the large airways, and reduced respiratory function. As researchers become more exposed to cannabinoids, the risks for heart patients will become clearer.

Can Your Patients Overdose on CBD CLINIC™ Topicals?

With all said and done, we at CBD CLINIC™ use skin conditioning CBD oil according to federal guidelines, meaning that our products are THC-free (containing less than 0.3% at the most).

Our products will not get patients high, will not cause them to fail a drug test, and are non-addictive. Most importantly, they are safe.

CBD CLINIC’s products are not transdermal, meaning that they do not pass through the bloodstream. Even if the products were transdermal, the THC and CBD is so low that even in extreme experimental usages (like swimming in a tub full of the product), the risks would be minimal.

This is why CBD CLINIC™ created its topical analgesic in the first place—to provide a safe, effective, and powerful analgesic that gets pain sufferers off pills or illicit substances.

What to Tell Your Patients About Cannabis

In summary, THC is largely benign, but there are some risks to consider.

  1. If your patients have a heart condition or pulmonary condition, encourage them to speak to their primary care practitioner or cardiologist before using recreational or medical cannabis that contains THC, especially if they are taking the anticoagulant Warfarin.
  2. THC could theoretically kill someone who uses copious amounts of pure THC, but it takes more THC to kill you than coffee or nicotine.
  3. Some people have fainted when they used marijuana in excess, which have been linked to a drop in blood sugar or blood pressure, so if one is to consume THC, use it responsibly.
  4. Extreme excess use of THC could upset the stomach and trigger temporary psychosis.
  5. The THC in CBD CLINIC™ products are so low or non-existent, so they are deemed safe for regular use.

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Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It has not been approved by the FDA to diagnose, treat, prevent, cure, or mitigate any diseases or conditions. We use CBD in our products for cosmetic purposes only.

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