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If you’re reading this, you are either a recreational cannabis veteran who has seen a handful of cannabis smokers passing out from puffing a joint and can’t seem to figure out why. Or, you are a newbie who wants to give recreational or medical cannabis a shot, and the burning question on your mind is, “Can cannabis make you pass out?” Whichever it is, your curiosity and concerns are valid because cannabis can make you pass out. But that shouldn’t be a reason to give up on cannabis consumption.
In this article, we explore the factors responsible for dizzy spells, unsteadiness, and imbalance during cannabis sessions. We will also provide tips on reducing cannabis-induced fainting and suggest when these dizzy spells require medical attention.
Can Cannabis Make You Pass Out? Effects on Blood Pressure
Dizzy spells from cannabis often occur due to a drop in blood pressure. Now, you should note that there is a difference between blacking out and fainting spells. Usually, when one is blackout drunk, the person has probably consumed more alcohol than the body can handle. In such cases, the alcohol concentration in the person’s body is around 0.16% or higher. This drinking-induced blackout often leads to a monetary loss of memory—which often resurfaces when triggered by cues.
On the other hand, fainting spells are a more severe alteration of consciousness. Also known as vasovagal syncope, it usually occurs when the part of your body responsible for regulating your blood pressure doesn’t work as it should. This is because a new or relatively foreign substance with strong effects enters the body, causing a reaction that causes blood pressure and heart rate to drop. When one’s heart rate and blood pressure drop, oxygen flow to the brain is restricted, causing the body to shut down and fainting.
With cannabis, THC is the culprit responsible for fainting spells. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a natural vasodilator known to widen blood vessels, a mechanism that causes a momentary dip in blood pressure, causing disorientation, imbalance, lightheadedness, and unconsciousness.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Cannabis-Influenced Fainting
Now if you’ve observed, some people consume cannabis without experiencing dizzy spells, lightheadedness, fainting, or anything like that. The most common signs that come with consuming cannabis are red eye, dry mouth, running nose, and maybe some itching. But others suffer dizzy spells and lose a tooth or two in the process from hitting their heads on objects or a wall when they faint. Dizzy spells from cannabis consumption are more common than you think, and fainting associated with cannabis consumption is often influenced by several other factors, including:
Dosage and Potency
The dosage and potency of any psychoactive substance are the cornerstone of a cannabis experience. When you’re in a place where joints, pipes, or cannabis is being passed around, it is often hard to tell, especially for a newbie, the strain being consumed and its THC content. If, when smoking or vaping, the THC content in the strain is more than 100mg, the first puff can send you spiraling – and not in a good way.
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In essence, the disparity in THC concentration in cannabis is why some enjoy blissful relaxation, and others suffer a dizzying episode.
Now, here’s where most people get it wrong. Most cannabis and cannabidiol consumers puff a joint without realizing that their posture matters. Standing while using cannabis is ill-advised, as a puff or two can make you go weak in the knees, leading to an imbalance that could cause you to hit the floor while passing out. It is best to sit, especially when starting a smoke session. But be careful when standing up, as there is a thing called orthostatic hypotension, which is a drop in blood pressure when transitioning from a sitting or lying position to a standing one.
Individual Sensitivity to Cannabis Compounds
Just as no two people are alike, our bodies’ responses to cannabis also differ. Some individuals possess a higher threshold for cannabinoids, allowing them to consume cannabis without passing out. Others might be more susceptible to dizzy spells due to underlying circumstances such as already low blood pressure and other cardiac-related diseases.
Tips for Minimizing Dizzy Spells When Smoking Cannabis
To ensure the whole harmonious experience of cannabis-induced euphoria and keep dizzy spells at bay, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Start Low, Go Slow
The famous saying “less is more” holds true when consuming cannabis. The last thing you should be concerned with is trying to “out-smoke” anyone. Instead, it would help if you focused on controlling your dose. Find a strain that is not so potent, start with a low dose, and gradually, you can increase it till you find your sweet spot.
Hydration and Nutrition
While dehydration is not directly linked to marijuana consumption, vomiting, nausea, or the cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome from a “ganjover” could result in dehydration. In the same vein, heart rate and blood pressure levels could drop rapidly when cannabis is consumed on an empty stomach. Thus, nutrition and hydration become important. Proper hydration and a light snack can help maintain sugar levels, stabilize blood pressure, and reduce the risk of dizziness.
Safe Consumption Spaces
The need to consume cannabis in a controlled environment cannot be overemphasized. Opt for a space where licensed products in regulated quantities are legally peddled. If you’re new to recreational cannabis, ensure the environment is well-ventilated and comfortable – sitting through your first few smoke sessions is advised.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Cannabis-Induced Dizziness
Usually, dizzy spells are not necessarily a cause for alarm. Unless you bump into a wall or an object, bleed, and must be rushed to a hospital. But in most cases, they are seen as a rite of passage, especially for newbies. However, you might need to seek medical attention when the dizzy spells become prolonged and severe. If, as a veteran, you have a high tolerance for cannabis and you suddenly begin to experience fainting bouts, you should also consult a medical practitioner.