What Is Greening Out
To put it bluntly, greening out is overusing cannabis in a short amount of time. A lot of times, as we will get into later, a green out is caused when cannabis is mixed with some other substance. Greening out is not nearly as life-threatening as an overdose of certain other substances, though at the time it may feel like the end of the world. Today’s world of measured doses and flowers with the percent of THC listed seems like there would be less risk, but there are still a few times when things go awry. Have you ever seen someone greened out, and would you know how to help them if you did? Can you tell the signs, or do you know the greening out symptoms?
Although greening out is not the same as a blackout from alcohol or an overdose of stronger drugs, a green out is certainly an uncomfortable experience, and a learning experience that will teach even a veteran cannabis user a bit of respect for the plant they love so much. There are a handful of telltale signs and symptoms of a green out and whoever you see exhibiting these signs probably needs help.
A Greening Out Scenario
Let’s say you go to a friend’s house for their holiday party. You brought the dessert, but your friend Zach brought some “special” brownies for a second dessert on this special occasion. Zach is a close friend, and he assures you that even though you don’t recreationally smoke cannabis or eat cannabis edibles you should have half a brownie with everyone else after dinner. You have a couple of glasses of wine with your dinner, it paired perfectly with your dinner.
The beef tenderloin was delicious, your apple pie was devoured by everyone, and you are in high spirits, so when it comes time for everyone to eat their edible you feel, what could go wrong? Zach is a trustworthy friend, but he is an amateur at cooking cannabis edibles, so while everyone ate the same size brownie, there was no way for you to know how strong, even relatively, the edible was. An hour passes. Everyone is watching the ultimate Christmas movie, Die Hard, and giggling and generally having a good time.
You start feeling just a little uneasy, which makes you wonder if the edibles are kicking in, and that makes you a little anxious. A couple minutes later the uneasy feeling turns into a bit of dizziness too. That’s when you start to panic a little bit. Everyone is watching the movie and laughing, but it seems to you that they are all laughing at you, as if they noticed your slight paranoia and thought it was funny. This leads you down a path of other auditory hallucinations, and that’s when the profuse sweating started and you felt like your heart was going to jump out of your chest. Then, in a state of pure confusion, you begin to fear you’re dead, and you can’t explain with words what you’re experiencing to your girlfriend right next to you, except to whisper to her, “Am I here? Like, here, physically.” According to you, hours have now passed, or has it only been five minutes? When you close your eyes, all you see is kaleidoscope-like geometric patterns gyrating and you feel engulfed by a different world completely alien to you. You really can’t handle all this stimulation and almost hyperventilate. You, my dear friend, are totally greened out!
Luckily, your good buddy Zach has been made aware of your sweating, your breathing, and the fear painted on your face, and knows that you are in a bad place. “Buddy is greening out right now,” you hear from the ether, and then another voice, giggling, asks, “what is greening out?” And you wonder the same.
Someone turns off Die Hard, and you feel a nice warm blanket draped over you, and your girlfriend whispers sweet phrases to reassure you. You close your eyes for a minute, and this time the geometry has gone away. Eventually you open your eyes, and the room has come back into focus and there is soft light and a slight scent of lavender. Everyone is lying around and speaking softly, there’s nice ambient music, and your friends are politely checking on you every couple of minutes. Eventually the hallucinations and paranoia subside, and your breathing returns to resemble something like normal. You wait a little while longer, and you gather your things, and your dignity, and head out with your girlfriend to find your bed and there you stay until noon the next day, drinking water and eating your fill of greasy burgers and comfort food. It was a Christmas you won’t forget any time soon, although you also have a tough time remembering exactly what happened.
Can You Avoid Or Stop A Green Out
A green out is most commonly the result of mixing cannabis with alcohol, though it can also be experienced simply by ingesting too much marijuana. Though it is best to stay away from mixing substances, generally, if you want to avoid greening out, or worse. Whether the cannabis is flower or an edible, and whether you drank a beer with dinner or decided to have some margaritas and extra tequilas at your buddies’ Cinco de Mayo fiesta, will all have a distinct reaction with your endocannabinoid system and will affect you differently. Sometimes you toe that line and have a great time enjoying some goodies, and sometimes you cross that line into time travel, nausea, and an all-around bad time. So, it’s best to not risk it.
In addition to avoiding mixing substances, using cannabis in moderation, and waiting for the effects with patience, are important if you want to avoid being greened out. A green out can come on gradually, especially if you have ingested an edible, which means if you ate half a brownie, and only waited 30 minutes before deciding to snack on the other half, you may have just sent yourself on a journey you didn’t want to take. Take that half of a brownie at the party, and if you only feel half of your desired effect, that is preferable to hiding in the bathroom for 5 hours while you think you’re hiding from the police, because they know, man.
Greening Out Symptoms
As the story above described, there are several symptoms that can occur leading up to and during a green out, including anxiety, paranoia, heavy breathing, nausea, dizziness, vertigo, elevated heart rate, sweating, and hallucinations and distorted perception. They may come on slowly, or there may be acute sensations of only a couple of these sensations. It may last less than an hour or it may be an intense 6-hour experience. Most green outs will take about 24 hours for the full effects to subside, and that is probably how long it will take to assess exactly what happened. Lucky for you Releaf Medical wrote two amazing blog articles for a situation like this:
How To Help Someone That Is Greened Out
First off, this is not to recommend being a hall monitor and telling your friends or family how much cannabis is too much. We are all adults, and that is their decision. However, if you start to notice your motormouth cousin get quiet, and start breathing heavily, keep an eye on them. If they start sweating or speaking nonsense, take a minute with them and simply ask if they’re feeling ok. This is a simple question, and for someone who’s greening out, it will be a call for help. A non-answer is also an answer in itself.
The most important things you can do is to make sure they are safe and then try to make them as comfortable as possible. It may mean their favorite album, a soft hoodie to snuggle up in on the couch, some chocolate or something salty, and plenty of water or a soda. This is a time to be as gentle as you can, people in a green out are in a vulnerable state.
Be kind, be present, and help in any way that you think will lighten the stress of the situation. Then, it’s just a waiting game. Your friend will be forever grateful for any kind of help, and though they might be embarrassed the next time you hang out, you can assure them it happens to lots of folks all the time, even the most veteran users, and that you would only ask for the same in return if you ever need it.
We hope you learned the answer to the question of what is greening out and the most obvious greening out symptoms. If you have any tips or tricks for someone that is greened out Releaf Medical would love to hear about them!