Why Does Cannabis Make Me Faint?
Smoking weed may sometimes result in undesired side effects like dizziness. We explore why this happens and what it means for the average cannabis consumer.
There are a few unpleasant short-term side effects cannabis users may experience at one point or another. The majority seem to manifest in the inexperienced consumer, gradually dissipating as individuals become better acquainted with the sensation of being high and their tolerance rising.
One such unpleasantry is getting dizzy after you smoked. It can happen even to the most experienced of smokers. In some extreme cases, this dizziness can catapult itself into a full-blown “green out” – a term depicting the classic momentary loss of consciousness after inhaling a particularly strong hero dose of weed.
But not everyone hits the bong like there is no tomorrow. Many simply get dizzy even after a few tokes from a shared joint. But rest assured, this is perfectly benign. The truth is, cannabis does not directly make you dizzy.
EVEN THE MOST EXPERIENCED SMOKER MAY GET DIZZY
Dizziness is a sensation caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure. Cannabis does lower blood pressure, as well as engorge the brain’s vascular system. By doing so, it creates a sort of double whammy effect.
Cannabis influences the bloodstream in many ways. In addition to causing an overall reduction in blood flow (aka pressure), the brain is all of a sudden able to hold more blood, slightly reducing the rest of the body’s circulating volume, and therefore causing an extra drop in pressure.
Have you ever felt dizzy from suddenly standing up after a long period of sitting down? The sudden jolt of going from sitting or prone position into fully erect vertical stance will cause very strong back pressure in your veins. Quite literally, the force of gravity momentarily causes your circulation to halt, making you immediately lightheaded. You do not need to be high for this to happen, but weed certainly does play a part in heightening the experience, as the psychoactive nature of THC does modulate your senses.
The exact same thing can happen while under the influence of alcohol, although at lower levels, alcohol reacts more like a stimulant than a depressant. But it is a usual affair for someone particularly intoxicated to stumble over.
I FELT LIKE I WAS GOING TO DIE
This is a common thought inexperienced cannabis users may have post-toke. We could call it a classic newbie bad trip. Cannabis is not lethal, but a bit of anxiety followed by dizziness can trigger a paranoid state fueled by fear – in this case, fear of the unknown – which could escalate into a panic attack.
Let us break the news, that it’s all in your head. When this happens, it just means you were overwhelmed by the sensation of being high, and a negative thought process took over.
HOW CAN I PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING?
Being lightheaded, woozy, losing your balance, or even flat out fainting because of cannabis is not dangerous at all (as long as you don’t hit your head). On the other hand, if you frequently experience this when you smoke, we strongly suggest trying a completely different strain from another lineage and compare. If you frequently get dizzy even without consuming weed, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
It is very common for some individuals to experience strong anxiety from indica strains while feeling perfectly in tune when enjoying a sativa. On the contrary, many people do not like sativas as they feel paranoid and head-locked, and prefer the more sedative body high of an indica. Some find their Holy Grail in a hybrid. As it stands now, CBD-rich strains are increasingly being used to mediate the intense psychoactive effects of THC.
The real trick here is to experiment as much as possible. Start slow, and do not let peer pressure ruin the experience for you. If you find yourself couch-locked, stretch your limbs and move around a bit before standing up to slightly pump your vascular system.
Have some snacks handy; not only for the munchies, but sugar and salt will increase blood pressure. Stay properly hydrated. More often than not, the good side effects of weed will remind you of these last two. In fact, mild dehydration is a transversal social phenomenon that causes a plethora of symptoms, with low blood pressure being one of the main ones.
Finally, if you do get dizzy – do not freak out! It happens to everyone, with or without weed. The sensation should subside relatively quickly. Grab ahold of something or sit back down, take a couple of deep breaths, do not let negative thoughts invade you – and within seconds, you will be good as new, and still equally high.
Some people may get dizzy or lightheaded when high. We explain why this happens and what to do about it.
These Warning Signs Could Mean You’ve Overdosed on Marijuana
Since many states have now legalized recreational marijuana use, many more people are now comfortable lighting up (or at least, they’re admitting it more often). And while smoking or ingesting pot is considered safer than alcohol consumption, that doesn’t mean it is without potentially harmful side effects.
While the common belief is that it’s impossible to overdose on marijuana, as it turns out, that may not be true. While no one has ever died from too much marijuana, it’s definitely possible to have too much. Here’s how to tell when it’s time to put down the pipe (or the brownies).
You feel dizzy
Woman feeling dizzy | iStock.com/ AntonioGuillem
According to Leaf Science, dizziness is a common symptom of heavy marijuana use. If you start to feel dizzy or disoriented, sit down, sip some water, and wait it out. The weed will leave your system eventually, but the dizziness can last quite awhile.
Next: Marijuana is sometimes used to ease anxiety, but sometimes it backfires.
You have anxiety and paranoia
Woman feeling anxious | iStock.com/Viktor_Gladkov
For some people, any amount of marijuana causes anxiety — but for others, it can actually help alleviate it. But one sure sign that you’ve smoked too much pot is suddenly feeling very anxious. Unfortunately, much like dizziness, all you can is wait it out.
Next: If your heart is racing, it’s time to stop smoking.
A pounding heart or chest pain
Woman with chest pain | SIphotography/iStock/Getty Images
Marijuana can increase your heart rate, and a racing heart is a definite sign you should slow down. TCH makes your blood vessels expand, which can lower your blood pressure and cause your heart to speed up to compensate. If you have a history of heart troubles, you may want to stay away from cannabis entirely.
Next: This side effect is rare, but it happens.
Uncontrollable shaking or seizures
Person having a seizure | Martinbowra/Getty Images
The good news is, you’ll have to ingest a lot of marijuana for this to happen. The bad news is that too much can, in fact, cause uncontrollable shaking and even seizures. If this happens, someone should call 911 immediately.
Next: This is a terrifying sign you’ve overindulged.
Woman hallucinating | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images
Too much marijuana can make you hallucinate. This is terrifying, and it happens most often when the potency is stronger than the smoker expected. Legalization has helped this become less common since the strains are more regulated and labeled.
Next: Cannabis is used to treat nausea, but sometimes it can cause it.
Nausea and vomiting
Woman throwing up | LarsZahnerPhotography/Getty Images
While marijuana is often used medically to combat nausea, if you have too much of it, it can actually lead to nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, these effects are typically short-lived and will leave your system as the THC does.
Next: Here’s what to do if you’ve smoked too much.
What happens when you’ve overdosed?
Spilled pill bottle | GillTeeShots/Getty Images
Whether you’re a regular stoner or a first time smoker, ingesting too much is possible, even though marijuana has better labels now. Since smoking too much is not a life or death emergency (unless, as mentioned above, you’re having heart palpitations and sweating), treating marijuana intoxication is typically a waiting game. Get to a comfortable environment, preferably with someone who is capable of taking care of you. You’ll return to your sober state soon.
When it comes to marijuana consumption, too much of a good thing is certainly possible. Here's how to tell when to put down the pipe.