THC Poisoning: Understanding and Getting Help for Acute Cannabinoid Intoxication

THC Poisoning: Understanding and Getting Help for Acute Cannabinoid Intoxication

Venom. Mushrooms. Poison ivy. Carbon monoxide. All of these things we have learned from a young age to be weary of. However, why is it that marijuana has toxins to the point it can be labeled as poisonous, but still so many use it?

THC poisoning, also known as acute cannabinoid intoxication, is a condition that occurs when an individual consumes a large amount of cannabis containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of marijuana. The increasing legalization and use of cannabis have led to a rise in cases of acute cannabinoid intoxication, prompting the need for effective treatment options. This article covers the causes, symptoms, and current tTHC poisoning treatment, as well as the innovative solutions being developed by biopharma companies and researchers.

If you or someone you know are suffering from a health crisis due to marijuana, do not hesitate to contact emergency medical services.

Understanding Acute Cannabinoid Intoxication

Causes and Prevalence

The use of cannabis, both for recreational and medicinal purposes, has been on the rise in recent years. According to the World Health Organization, millions of individuals around the world use marijuana or cannabinoid products, with a significant portion being adolescents and young adults. In the United States alone, there were approximately 1.7 million cannabis-related emergency department visits in 2020, highlighting the prevalence of acute cannabinoid intoxication.

How it Happens

When cannabis is consumed, THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body, leading to the psychoactive effects commonly associated with marijuana use. After acute use, THC remains in the blood for a few hours before being converted into a fat-soluble form, which is then stored in adipose tissue. This poses a challenge in detecting and treating acute cannabinoid intoxication, as THC can still be present in the body weeks after initial consumption.

THC Poisoning Symptoms and Effects

Acute cannabinoid intoxication can manifest in various physiological and psychological THC poisoning symptoms. Physiologically, individuals may experience tachycardia (rapid heart rate), hypotension (low blood pressure), and respiratory depression. Psychologically, symptoms can include panic, agitation, and psychosis. These symptoms can be severe and may last for several hours, impacting the overall well-being of the individual.

Diagnosis and Detection of THC Poisoning

Challenges in Detection

Detecting THC poisoning can be challenging due to the complex nature of cannabis metabolism and the storage of THC in adipose tissue. Traditional drug tests may not accurately reflect recent cannabis use or the severity of acute intoxication. Additionally, the subjective nature of THC poisoning symptoms and the varying tolerance levels among individuals further complicate the diagnostic process.

Laboratory Testing Methods

Laboratory testing methods, such as blood and urine tests, can help determine the presence of THC in the body. However, these tests may not provide a comprehensive picture of recent cannabis use or the severity of intoxication. Emerging technologies and research are focused on developing more accurate and efficient testing methods to aid in the diagnosis of THC poisoning.

Current Standard of Care for THC Poisoning

Supportive Care and Monitoring

Currently, the standard of care for THC poisoning primarily involves supportive care measures. Healthcare providers monitor the patient's vital signs, provide fluids to maintain hydration, and address any symptoms that may arise. Psychological support may also be provided to alleviate anxiety or agitation experienced by the individual.

Hospitalization in Severe Cases

In severe cases of THC poisoning, hospitalization may be necessary to manage the condition. This is typically reserved for individuals who exhibit severe physiological or psychological symptoms that require close monitoring and intervention. However, most cases of THC poisoning do not pose life-threatening risks and can be managed with supportive care measures.

Novel Approaches to THC Poisoning Treatment

Several biopharma companies are actively developing novel approaches to THC poisoning treatment and mitigate its symptoms. These approaches aim to reverse the effects of excessive cannabis or THC consumption in the body, providing rapid relief and reducing the severity and duration of intoxication.

Anebulo Pharmaceuticals: ANEB-001

Anebulo Pharmaceuticals is at the forefront of developing a treatment for THC poisoning with its product, ANEB-001. This synthetic cannabinoid is designed to bind to the same receptors as THC but has a shorter half-life, allowing it to be cleared from the body more quickly. ANEB-001 shows promise in providing a targeted and efficient treatment for acute cannabinoid intoxication. Anebulo Pharmaceuticals has completed phase two trials for ANEB-001 and is exploring different formulations and administration routes for wider accessibility.

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals: Zygel

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals is focused on developing Zygel, a synthetic cannabidiol (CBD) gel that can be applied to the skin. CBD, another active component of cannabis, has shown medical benefits without psychoactive effects. Zygel aims to address the challenges associated with oral administration of CBD and the degradation of CBD into THC within stomach acid. By providing a transdermal route of administration, Zygel may offer an alternative option for THC poisoning treatment.

Aelis Farma: AEF0117

Aelis Farma is investigating AEF0117, a cannabinoid receptor 1 inhibitor, for the treatment of cannabis use disorder. By blocking THC signaling, AEF0117 aims to reduce the addictive properties of cannabis and prevent the development of acute cannabinoid intoxication. While not specifically targeted at THC poisoning, AEF0117 represents an innovative approach to addressing the underlying causes of cannabis abuse and dependence.

Clinical Trials and Research on THC Poisoning Treatment

Numerous clinical trials and research studies are currently underway to evaluate the safety and efficacy of potential treatments for THC poisoning. These studies aim to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the condition and explore new therapeutic approaches. Continued research and development efforts are crucial in improving patient outcomes and reducing the burden on healthcare providers.

Prevention and Harm Reduction Strategies

While treatment options for THC poisoning are being developed, prevention and harm reduction strategies play a vital role in minimizing the occurrence and severity of acute cannabinoid intoxication. Public education and awareness campaigns can provide individuals with accurate information about cannabis use and its potential risks. Regulation and labeling of cannabis products can ensure proper dosing and reduce the likelihood of excessive consumption. Additionally, promoting responsible use practices and encouraging individuals to seek medical help when needed can contribute to overall harm reduction.


THC poisoning, or acute cannabinoid intoxication, is a condition that requires effective treatment options to alleviate its physiological and psychological symptoms. While the current standard of care primarily focuses on supportive measures, ongoing research and development efforts are exploring novel approaches to THC poisoning treatment. Biopharma companies such as Anebulo Pharmaceuticals, Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, and Aelis Farma are at the forefront of developing innovative treatments that target the underlying causes of acute cannabinoid intoxication. Continued research, clinical trials, and public education are essential in improving patient outcomes and reducing the burden on healthcare providers.


Washington State Department of Health- Poisoning and Drug Overdose

OHSU- Drug Poisoning and Overdose | Oregon Poison Center

NHS- Poisoning - Symptoms

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