What is greening out and how to avoid it

What is greening out and how to avoid it
Steven Voser

If you haven't experienced the sensation of "greening out", consider yourself lucky. The overwhelming feeling of nausea and distress is enough to make people hesitant around weed for a while. These side effects, however, are pretty easy to avoid. Here is what greening out is and how to deal with it.

If you're like most smokers, you've probably never had to deal with greening out. In fact, this might even be the first time you've heard the term at all. If you're in those unexposed groups, consider yourself lucky. It's probably the least enjoyable experience you can have with marijuana, and avoiding it entirely is the wisest course.

Sometimes, though, it just can't be avoided, and you have to ride it out. Given it's such an unfamiliar experience to many, we figured we should whip up a guide about it! Here, we'll be discussing what it is, how it happens, how you can endure it, and how you can avoid it completely.


You might have noticed the similarity between "greening out" and the more common "blacking out". There are definitely some similarities, but quite a few differences as well. "Blacking out" usually refers to drinking so much alcohol that one forgets everything that happens that night (past a certain point). It also implies one is throwing up or getting sick—but the memory loss is usually the most prominent feature.

"Greening out", however, just refers to consuming so much THC that one gets nauseous and feels sick. The memory loss might also occur, though, depending on the person. However, the term is most often used to refer to other adverse symptoms.


Simply enough, greening out is caused by overactivation of the CB1 receptor in the brain. As we've discussed in other articles, THC and other cannabinoids interact with specific cannabinoid receptors in the body. Along with being triggered by cannabis, these receptors are also naturally activated by endocannabinoid neurotransmitters, such as anandamide. Through this interaction, anandamide plays a role in how our body deals with mood, nociception, and hunger. It also plays a notable role in memory and fertility.

Anandamide, however, doesn't activate CB1 receptors to the degree that THC does. As a result, these receptors can get overactivated sooner than you'd think. With this excessive activation, the body gets thrown into a state of sickness.


Thankfully (or unfortunately, however you interpret it), it's easy to tell you're greening out once it's happening. As we've mentioned before, the first thing you're likely to notice is nausea. You might also start to experience sweating and a persistent dizziness, along with an increased heart rate and fluctuating blood pressure. Outside of the physical symptoms, you might experience some acute feelings of nervousness, paranoia, and trouble focusing.

Depending on how much cannabis you've smoked or eaten, and on your unique physiology, you'll be feeling these symptoms for anywhere between 30 minutes and six hours. It's a wide range, we know, but there's a wide range of weed smokers out there.


Unfortunately, you can't end your green-out too quickly. However, there are a few steps you can take to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.

• If you're with your friends, don't leave them. Staying with people can help you stay out of your head, lessening your paranoia or fear. Everyone's different, though. If you find being with people makes you more jittery, step out of the social situation and take time for yourself.

• Stay consistently hydrated. If you're constantly flushing out your system with water, you'll get through your green-out noticeably quicker.

• Reassure yourself that you're fine, or have people around you reassure you. There's no chance of you experiencing a fatal overdose on weed. However weird it feels, it'll pass, and you'll be totally fine on the other side.

• Lie down on your side, and make sure you can stay that way! Throwing up while lying on your back can be fatal due to the choking hazard. By lying on your side, you'll ensure everything you need to expel from your system gets out.

• Go to sleep, if possible. After lying down on your side, hydrated and mentally relaxed, it's time to head to bed. By the time you wake up, the high of last night should be a distant memory. Unless you got _really_ high, then you'll at least be less high than you were before you fell asleep.



As nice as water, verbal affirmation, and a nap sound, we can't imagine you want to even begin going through the green-out experience. The prevention methods below are pretty obvious, but we'll walk you through them just to make sure you’re prepared.

• First off, don't smoke too much weed. If you're new to smoking, take things slowly, maybe one or two hits at a time. Take some time to assess yourself during the smoke session, making sure you aren't going too hard, too fast.

• In turn, if you feel like your current batch is getting you too high, you can also opt for strains with less THC.

• Make sure you're nice and full before you smoke too, as you can get higher quicker on an empty stomach.

• Lastly, make sure you're not mixing alcohol or other drugs with THC, as these can dramatically enhance the effects.

Overall, just stay careful, stay aware, and enjoy responsibly!

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.