Why am I almost fainting every time smoke pot?
October 1, 2009 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Why is marijuana making me faint?

Up until about 5 months ago, I had been an almost daily marijuana user for about 8 years -- smoking half a joint or a few hits from a bowl in the evening, and a few times during the weekend. Then, starting this summer, I began to nearly pass out when I stood up or even moved around after smoking. I once actually passed out while walking between rooms and having a discussion with friends, collapsed to the floor and came to a few seconds later.

About me: male, mid-30s, no health issues, competitive (amateur) athlete, fit, healthy diet, occasionally drink one or two beers. Blood pressure and all other vital signs are normal -- just had a physical.

When this started happening over the summer, I stopped for a month -- no fainting. But I missed it, right? So now I indulge maybe once a week or less -- still just as fainty. This never happens, except when I smoke. It is somewhat mitigated, but not entirely, if I stand up and move very slowly.

I grok that if I want to stop fainting, I'll have to stop smoking weed, but I want to understand the mechanism behind what's happening. Could something be wrong with me? Does this happen frequently? And more importantly, might it go away?

I know you're not my doctor, but this isn't something I'm too comfortable bringing up with a doc -- I have a lot to lose.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

It sounds like the marijuana is making your blood pressure bottom out for whatever reason. Can you get a medical-type friend to take your blood pressure while you're smoking and see? You could even buy an automatic monitor at a drugstore.

To make it even! more! scientific! you can take a couple of reading while sitting / lying down / lounging sans weed.

Did your source change? New variety of marijuana? It's odd that this would start happening after 8 years, but it's entirely possible to develop an allergy or sensitivity to any substance at any point.

Quitting may be your best option.
posted by charmcityblues at 5:57 PM on October 1, 2009

It happens.
posted by fish tick at 6:01 PM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

As an aside, I note that the young pups today like to assert that marijuana is a lot more concentrated these days than it used to be. Maybe that's just teenage bravado, but why not try smoking a tenth as much as you normally would one of these days and see if it still does the trick without the pass out?
posted by fish tick at 6:17 PM on October 1, 2009

I knew a guy... who went to Amsterdam and did not understand that the pot is much stronger there. So this guy smoked quite a bit in a coffeeshop, and passed out. A kind older Dutch man was sitting with him when he came to (he'd been placed back on a chair). The Dutch man's first words, after ascertaining that all was ok, was, "This is all George Bush's fault! He makes this illegal, so Americans don't know how to take it easy when smoking!"

The guy still remembers these wise words.
posted by Houstonian at 6:51 PM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

Figure out if it's the smoke or the active ingredient? Eat it or use one of those fancy volcano things I see advertised on the internets?
posted by paanta at 7:05 PM on October 1, 2009

As an aside, I note that the young pups today like to assert that marijuana is a lot more concentrated these days than it used to be.

Everyone I know who talks about this claims that it's happened over decades, not months.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:03 PM on October 1, 2009

This has happened to.. a friend of mine.. a few times. It's a blood pressure thing. Smoke less and/or don't stand up quickly. You can put your head between your knees too.

I don't know why the sudden change, but it could just be aging, a reaction to a different strain, diet.
posted by cj_ at 10:19 PM on October 1, 2009

This sort of happens to me when I smoke weed or cigarettes and it definitely happens to me when I get high and then smoke a cigarette. Not that I faint, exactly, but I feel light-headed, and sometimes I get very cold as well. I've always assumed that smoking fucks with my blood pressure. Do you roll joints with tobacco? Maybe try cutting out tobacco or just any smoke whatsoever, and buy one of those thingies that vaporizes the weed into thin air.
posted by creasy boy at 11:01 PM on October 1, 2009

Also splashing cold water all over my head and neck definitely helps. Come to think of it, this happens to me everytime I'm at a party and get high and drunk and then smoke way too many cigarettes.
posted by creasy boy at 11:04 PM on October 1, 2009

This used to happen to me too. I recall one time where I actually lost vision for a minute or so, pretty scary. I don't smoke anymore, I figure if shit like that happens to me it's probably not my drug.
posted by ryaninoakland at 1:32 AM on October 2, 2009

You can build a tolerance to THC. Now that youre a much more casual user youre probably just using too much. That said, people's bodies change over time. You may not be able to tolerate it anymore.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:51 AM on October 2, 2009

This change happened to me in my 20's, I'd go "whitey" every time I smoked. I think my body chemistry changed somehow because it was pretty sudden. One day, I'm smoking normal amounts, the next day, I'm falling out every time I even took a hit.

The only solution was to stop smoking, so I changed it up.

This may mean you're nearing the point where you may have to do the same.
posted by disclaimer at 11:15 AM on October 2, 2009

My experience was the same as disclaimer. My symptoms ranged from spins and nausea to fainting. Drinking or smoking tobacco in combination with weed definitely made the effect worse. By the time I was in my mid-20s, I had to stop completely. Which was probably just as well - weed was beginning to interfere with my life. If the experience of being stoned hadn't suddenly become very unpleasant, I probably would have continued with my habit for quite some time. So perhaps you can look at is as a blessing in disguise?

Anyhow, I'm 40 now and smoked for the first time in many, many years this summer. After quite a lot of drinking. Went whitey about 15 minutes after my first puff.
posted by centerweight at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2009

This happened to Mr. Sophie just once. He's a daily user and one day, BAM, takes a hit and passes out. 6 years later he's still smoking about a puff or two a day and it hasn't happened since.

Just another piece of (anecdotal) data for your dataset.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:48 PM on October 2, 2009

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