What is “Greening Out?”

by Bridey Hicks
photo by jon tyson on unsplash_what is greening out

Greening out is when someone feels extremely sick after using cannabis. It’s not like accidentally getting a head high when you were going for a relaxing body high; it’s much more chemically involved. Symptoms can include excessive sweating, a pale face, dizziness, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. This reaction is quite scary for some people, as greening out has been known to cause panic attacks. 

Smoking too much weed is, unfortunately, something that can happen. Like “blacking out” from too much alcohol, you can experience something called “greening out” from too much cannabis. While this isn’t something that typically happens after just three puffs on a joint, it could happen after three full joints.

The science behind “greening out”

While we know greening out will make you feel “bad,” it’s essential to understand why it makes you feel bad. And luckily, there’s science behind greening out. 

When you use cannabis, you consume THC. The THC then binds to a Cannabinoid receptor in your brain. The cannabinoid receptor is the thing that works wonders for managing appetite, depression, and pain. WE LOVE THAT. However, when your cannabis/THC intake is too high, those cell receptors freak out and become overstimulated. An overstimulated cannabinoid receptor = greening out. And depending on how much cannabis you consumed, the high could last a while

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Tips for handling & preventing green outs

If you’re already feeling the effects, it’ll be challenging to know what to do when greening out. But, if you know how much weed is too much weed for you personally, you should be able to steer clear of greening out or, at the very least, alleviate some of the symptoms. 

If you think you’re greening out, try to have someone there with you. It’s important to remain in a safe place while this is happening. Your typical crowd, party, bright lights, or loud music can easily overstimulate an already overstimulated person.

Once you’re in the *safe zone*, go ahead and find something you can use to lie down on your side (the ground is fine). If lying down seems like the end of the world to you, just try sitting in an upright position. This will help the blood flow throughout your body, and if you start to vomit, you’ll be safe doing so.

Next, drink water. A lot of water, especially if you’re puking. 

If you’re experiencing a panic attack, an excellent way to regulate the nervous system is by putting your wrists under cold water or using an ice cube on your wrist. The cold will shock the system to go to another part of your body, tricking your body into thinking something else needs attention. If this doesn’t help, try the 4-4-4-4 breathing method. Take a deep breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and repeat. And if that fails, you can find peace knowing that your panic attack will be over in approximately 20 minutes from when it started. After it’s passed, you may still feel anxious and weirded out, but that’s just a part of a bad high – not that panic attack.

The kicker to greening out is the potency and amount of cannabis someone has smoked. To prevent something like this from happening, it’s always good to remember this rule: start on a low dose and make sure you’re smoking slowly. It’s also a good rule of thumb to go light on drinking alcohol while using cannabis because alcohol makes you absorb THC faster. 


Greening out can be scary and jarring, so it’s crucial to know about it. Whether you’re a seasoned toker or nervous about trying cannabis for the first time, it can happen to either of you. However, this shouldn’t deter you from smoking as you usually do. If you haven’t greened out, you’re probably doing something right. For someone new to cannabis consumption, starting on a low-dose THC will work wonders. Take your time, and enjoy the silly parts of getting high. Everybody works differently, and no one knows you better than you. Look out for eachother, and keep tokin’.

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