Can you die from an overdose on marijuana, even medical marijuana?

It’s very highly unlikely to die from an overdose on medical marijuana for a couple reasons…

1. It has to do with the basic biology of the human body.  There are hardly any receptors for marijuana in the part of the brain that controls your breathing.  So, overdosing on medical marijuana is not likely to stop your breathing.

Now, medications like, opioids which are commonly prescribed to manage pain-so, these are medications, such as, Norco, Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, Morphine-for example, do have receptors in the brainstem.  Overdosing on these medications could completely stop your breathing leading to death.

2. It’s also unlikely to die from an overdose on medical marijuana from just a very practical standpoint. Back in 1988, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s very own Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, said:

“in order to induce death, a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette.”

He’s using the marijuana cigarettes supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as a point of reference, which weigh approximately .9 grams.

So, “a smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.”

So let me put this into perspective for you-a full-grown cow weighs 1,500 pounds.

He certainly hammered the point in by also adding that,

“in strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death.”

Finally, he ended by stating,

“Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality[,]” and “by contrast aspirin, a commonly used, over-the-counter medicine, causes hundreds of deaths each year.”




Research Referenced:

  1. Cannabinoid receptor localization in brain.
  2. Anatomy of CNS opioid receptors.


Of course, as always, if you have questions for me, then please post them in the comments section below and I’ll be more than happy to answer your question in the next video/blog.