There is one at every party. It seems that just about the time the second joint starts getting passed around the room, the girlfriend of the guy that nobody really wanted there in the first place goes quiet. Her situation is a little suspect, as everyone notices that she keeps feeling her chest from time to time. But the consensus is that as long as the “friendlies” are still having fun, all is well and good in the world.
Then the dab machine comes out. That’s when the quiet girl, despite knowing deep down inside that she is having some difficulty keeping up with the group’s rotation, decides she is going to try smoking high-powered concentrates for the first time.
Although the boyfriend protests, the cheers from the others around the room are enough to convince her to go for it. They will soon regret offering this level of encouragement. As soon as she blows out the hit, she looks as though she has been shot in the heart at close range. Not only is she gripping her chest like Fred Sanford in one of his “I’m coming to Georgia” moments, but her breathing is rapid and shallow and she’s got this look on her face of someone who is convinced that they are about to meet their maker.
Some of the other girls try to help calm her down a little, while the less sympathetic of the group sit back and laugh, spouting off things like “I remember the first time I smoked weed.” It’s all fun and games until the girl’s cannabis-induced panic attack erupts into a full-blown spectacle of terror and she does everything but tear down the living room walls trying to get some fresh air. It is at that point when she starts belting out a cornucopia of strange, colorful obscenities and begging for someone, anyone to call 911.
But is summoning emergency assistance the right move in this situation?
The short answer is no. Depending on which state a person lives in, calling in the cavalry (Police, Fire Department and EMT’s) when someone starts flipping out after consuming too much marijuana can bring nothing but trouble. Sure, there are a handful of states where cannabis is perfectly legal for adults 21 and older, but there are still plenty of jurisdictions in the United States where pot possession is a one-way ticket to jail.
And since it is impossible to die from a marijuana overdose, and the herb cannot cause any damage to a person’s internal organs, calling 911 for a THC terror trip is really just a waste of time.
But sometimes those ever-so-popular cannabis freak-outs and subsequent calls to 911 can lead to hilarity. At least it did in the case of Chris Allport, a comedy writer from Portland, Oregon. He just released an album entitled Anxious Rapper that he hopes will raise awareness for anxiety disorders through a comedic lens. His video for the song The Leaf, which is a first person account of the time he called 911 following a cannabis-induced panic attack, has left the Internet in stitches. You can (and need to) watch his insanely funny, NSFW video below.
Allport, who also works as an Associate Producer on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, told Forbes that he thought he was having a heart attack after smoking weed for the first time. Fortunately, after going through a rather tumotulous experience in an upstairs bathroom, which included a life-or-death battle with a dry tongue, he was lucky enough to reach a 911 dispatcher who understood exactly what he was going through.
“I called 911 and a friendly-sounding woman picked up,” he said. “I explained to her that I smoked marijuana and that I thought I was having a heart attack. After she asked a couple more questions like my age, the context of the situation, and, most importantly, if I had ingested any other substances — I told her alcohol — she reassured me that was I was experiencing was a panic attack.”
“I remember hearing an audible chuckle on her end,” he continued. “She went on to say that anxiety was a common side effect of marijuana and that she gets calls like this all the time. She told me to drink water, breathe, and to remember it will go away. She was like a guardian angel. I sat in that bathroom for about an hour after that.”
The dispatcher told Allport that she was more than willing to send in the troops. But she did her best to discourage him from going this route, perhaps knowing the trouble he could get into once police arrived on the scene.
“She wasn’t mad, she was calming and explained everything that was happening to me in full,” Allport said. “She told me that she would send an ambulance if I wanted her to, but that she didn’t think this qualified as an emergency. I ultimately decided not to have her send the ambulance. It also occurred to me that on top of making a huge scene, it wouldn’t be a good ‘look’ to summon a bunch of police officers to a party full of underage drinking.”
Medical experts say marijuana-induced panic attack is the leading reason why people call 911 for a bad reaction to pot. Most of these folks just need some reassurance that they are not going to die.
Pro Tip: Save yourself the embarrassment (and perhaps even some legal woes) — don’t call 911 the next time you fear marijuana is trying to kill you. It isn’t.
A recent article from Cannabis Now offers some sage advice for people suffering from what it calls Canna-panic.
“Finding a quiet spot to chill out for a while, perhaps welcoming in the comfort of a friend is really about the best a person can do to deter focus from the gripping nightmare,” the article reads. “If sleep is possible, they should do that for sure. Consuming CBD-only products is also a good move. But no matter what don’t call 911. This will only complicate matters.”