A lot of my friends smoke weed, but I had a bad experience a few years ago where I felt way too high, and now every time someone pulls out a joint I get too anxious to try again. What can I do to ease my mind?
Too Tense to Toke
Dear Too Tense to Toke,
Ah, getting “too high,” a rite of passage for some, and a deterrent from the plant forever for many. While everyone’s different, I think the feeling of being too high is familiar to most of us: anxiety, paranoia, faintness, nausea, and an overall sense of “oh my god, I’m going to die.”
The good news about weed, unlike overindulging in almost anything else, is that you are categorically not going to die. That’s actually one of my favorite things about it, and why it makes me much less anxious than, say, alcohol. But, knowing and feeling are two different things, and even if you know that you’re not dying, you might feel like you are. So, what can you do?
I’m a naturally anxious person, too; I can barely drink coffee without sweating bullets, and something that I’ve had to reckon with in order to manage that anxiety is the idea of relinquishing control and not taking things too seriously.
Sometimes, when I smoke too strong of a sativa (my first trip to a legal dispensary humbled me, to say the least), I’ll have a moment of, “Oh god, did I make a mistake? Am I going to be okay?” and here’s what I tell myself: no one has ever (ever!) died from smoking weed, but if that hit you just took was your last? Well, it’s too late now— so, do you want to spend your last moments on earth panicking? Or listening to your favorite album and petting your cat?
One of my favorite philosophers, Joko Beck, likens life to being a whirlpool in a stream: the current is going to run no matter what, so you can try to build up a dam to prevent it, but that will only disrupt the flow for yourself and those around you. The truth is, that “too high” feeling is going to last about 90 minutes tops, so it’s up to you if you want to spend that time panicking and trying to stop it or letting go and enjoying the flow. Drink some water, open the window, and try to remember that it’s just a little reefer.
While maintaining a positive mindset is the main factor in getting over feeling too high, there are also some practical steps you can take. I would recommend choosing a hybrid or indica strain — be aware, though, that an indica might make you a bit sleepy. If you know the name of your strains, Leafly is a great resource to scour user reviews and THC percentage breakdowns (generally, the lower the THC percentage, the less anxious you’re likely to get).
There are also a few things that actually interact with THC on a molecular level in your body to make you feel less high — one of which comes from the very same plant: CBD. CBD can reduce your high by blocking the cannabinoid receptors in the brain (think of the chemicals in cannabis as “keys” fitting into the “lock” of your endocannabinoid system to unlock the benefits in your body), therefore preventing THC from activating them. There are also many foods that, like weed, contain terpenoids — lemons (limonene), pine nuts (pinene), and black peppercorns (beta-caryophyllene) being some of the most popular — which have also been shown to potentially serve as an “antidote” to a high.
Most importantly, though, you have to actually want to get high — if you don’t, that’s okay! If you find yourself just trying to justify your decision to not smoke, you’re better off cracking open a La Croix (the limoncello flavor is nearly as psychedelic) and enjoying things the way they are.
Happy toking, and write in with more questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on instagram at @sackville.and.co.