It’s common knowledge that marijuana can’t kill you, but less common knowledge why it can’t kill you. After all, it is an effective and potent medicine. And many medicines, from opioids and barbiturates to aspirin and pseudoephedrine, can cause deadly overdoses. So, what gives with cannabis?
It’s not just that cannabis is a plant or that it is inherently healthier than these other drugs (though that may be true). The stroke of luck where weed is concerned is that cannabinoid receptors aren’t very plentiful in the places that regulate essential life functions. Opioids, on the other hand, find a whole mess of receptors in key places like the lower brainstem area known as the pre-Bötzinger complex. The pre-Bötz controls respiration. An overdose of opioids can overwhelm these receptors and nearly shut down the pre-Bötz, causing breathing to become irregular and shallow, as discussed in this Leafly article.
That exact biological process causes thousands of deaths, including that of the late, great Prince, who overdosed on the extraordinarily dangerous opioid pharmaceutical fentanyl. Opioid receptors in other parts of the brain can similarly cause a fatal disrupt blood circulation.
Alcohol hits many of the same regions of the brain as opioids. At the point when there’s too much alcohol in the system for the liver to regulate, then it can take down your vital life functions.
Cannabinoid receptors, meanwhile, don’t hang around in places like the pre-Bötz. Though they’re some of the most common receptors in the brain, they don’t appear much in the lower brain stem. Instead, you’ll mainly find CB1 receptors in places that control cognition and mobility, which explains why someone who’s dabbed way the fuck out looks a lot like they’re drunk. They may have technically overdosed, but there’s no way they’ll die from it, because cannabis is chill like that.