marijuana overdose in monkeys
marijuana overdose in monkeys

Scientists Tried to Cause a Marijuana Overdose in Monkeys with 9,000mg of THC, They All Lived But Were 'Very Stoned'

Science is once again proving that it is nearly impossible to overdose on marijuana

Posted by:
The Undercover Stoner on Wednesday Nov 10, 2021

Scientists Couldn't Kill Monkeys With Excessive Amounts of THC. That Is Good News!

marijuana testing on monkeys

Have you ever wondered how consumables and drugs are tested around the world before they're tried by humans? The answer to this is rodents and other mammals.

The progress in cannabis research is largely due to the findings made about the drug's effects on animals like dogs, rats, and monkeys.  For a drug like cannabis to get to the clinical trials phase, it has to be approved. The risk involved is minimized when the drug has been found to have minimal negative effects on the experimental animals.

In this research conducted by cannabis scientists, we can categorically state that rats and excessive amounts of THC have no business together. Monkeys, on the other hand, can tolerate a high dose of the psychoactive compound.


Experimental Use of Animals In Cannabis Research

Animals, especially rodents are regularly used in various laboratory studies. Ethics are guiding the experimental use of animals to ensure all experiments remain logical.

In cannabis research, only animals that have endocannabinoid systems are used. Scientists have observed that rats have functionally expressed endocannabinoid systems which can be affected by the photo cannabinoids in marijuana. Although, they have been found to have uniquely designed CB receptors that cannot tolerate as much THC as primates.

By using animals, the potential risk of marijuana drugs, as well as their side-effects and ECS breakdown mechanism can be known and minimized before they are introduced to humans in clinical trials. These animals are often used to assess the effectiveness of new or modified medications, as well as to assess the risk of cannabis addiction.

These animals were used because they have similar DNA to humans, especially the rhesus monkeys; which are 97-99% similar to humans. Recent research observed that squirrel monkeys, when given unfettered access to cannabinoids, show similar brain reactions and behavior to those observed in humans.

This shows that monkeys are better suited to cannabis research. However, this does not cancel out the use of rats and other animals that can still help shed light on these studies. These little animals are also accessible and inexpensive to procure and care for during the duration of a study. During an experiment, at least two generations of a rat or mice will be observed due to their short lifespan. Their unsuspecting nature also makes them safer to use. Ethics pose a less moral quandary on the use of smaller animals.



The publication titled "Comparison of acute oral toxicity of cannabinoids in rats, dogs, and monkeys" disclosed the effects of cannabis after administering excessive doses of THC to the diets of rats, dogs, and monkeys. This research has been in the works since 1973 when the Mason Research Institute in Worcester Massachusetts first worked on it. The objective of the experiment was to determine what could be termed a "fatal dose' of tetrahydrocannabinol in mammals, as well as its drastic effects.


Overview of the Research

The experiment used both delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC, as well as a crude marijuana extract (CME). Crude marijuana extract contains delta-9 THC in high amounts, and a significant amount of CBN, CBD, and delta-8 THC. The drugs were introduced to the animals orally through the gavage process.


Results of the research

The study was more or less of execution for the rats involved. 95% of the total population used died. None of the monkeys died, although they appeared to be very stoned.



373 wistar-Lewis and Fischer rats were used, each weighing about 150g. Within the first three days of administering large doses of THC, about 95% of the population had died.

The compounds used each had around 225-3600 mg/kg THC. This equates to a rat receiving up to 33mg of THC. An increase in dose to about 1,800 mg/kg means that 540 mg of THC will be delivered to the test subject.

The scientists involved documented the cause of death of the rodents as severe hypothermia and its associated effects. Severe organ damage was also observed in the post-mortem process. The CME may have reduced the toxicity levels In the rats brought about by the delta-8 and delta-9 compounds, but it was insufficient enough to prevent the deaths. This pointed at the protective impacts of the entourage effect of cannabinoids in cannabis. Even in humans, hypothermia is a common effect of THC.



The beagle breed was used. The average age of the animals was 7 - 10 months, and they weighed around 6 -13 kg.

For the experiment, some were given massive doses of about 65 to 2000 mg/kg or THC, the rest were administered 5000 mg/kg of CME. The publication disclosed that the largest of those dogs consumed up to 26,000 mg. Fatality in these animals was significantly reduced compared to the rodents. Only two died. The deaths were not caused by the psychoactive compounds but from aspiration. The beagles choked on the cannabis which was administered through a tube.



The Rhesus monkeys were first administered 131 to 3150 mg/kg of THC or 5,000 mg/kg of CME. None of the monkeys used died from this dose. The scientists then increased the THC doses to about 9,000 mg/kg in an attempt to figure out just how much THC can kill a primate. This still proved to be insufficient enough to kill the animals.

The animals were however very affected by the high amounts of THC they were administered. The expressed behavior changes that affected their moods. According to the researchers, several of these animals showed signs of depression, imbalance, drowsiness, lack of coordination, lethargy, and an obvious change in posture. About 90% of the treated primates took up a huddled posture often facing the back of their cases, with their heads and hands placed between their legs.



The research describes the effects of cannabis toxicity as observed in humans—from effects like psychosis, paranoia, reduced motor skills and perception, or the huddled/couch-locked reactions seen in the monkeys. Although monkeys and humans have very similar DNAs, this is not enough to conclude that humans cannot die from massive amounts of high-THC cannabis.








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