Opioid overdoses can be fatal and most are due to respiratory arrest. Once an opioid enters the system in an excessive dose it produces a sedation so intense, muscles responsible for maintaining respiration simply cease to function, causing inadequate tissue perfusion or shock. If no antidote is administered, brain death occurs within five minutes. Complete physiological death occurs at or around ten minutes after last inhalation.
This does not happen with Cannabis sativa. There is no respiratory arrest, even if taken at very large doses that may produce effects such as anxiety, a panic attack, or seeming paralysis of muscles, effects that could well be considered those of an overdose. There is an important distinction between naturally occurring compounds and synthetics.
The reasons so-called ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ are more dangerous than natural ones are based in the same physiology by which opioids can kill and natural cannabinoids cannot. It is the concept of binding affinity. The measurable strength with which a compound such as an opioid or cannabinoid binds to a particular receptor in the human body determines type and duration of effect.
The strength or weakness of a compound, binding affinity at a receptor and the duration and intensity of the bond determine the nature of the resulting action. Virtually all opioids and a great many ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ have a strong affinity for their receptor sites, so strong it is capable of causing death.
Naturally occurring phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD, endocannabinoids like anandamide (produced by the human body) and cannabimimetics of plants that contain the terpene beta-caryophyllene (which binds with CB2) have a limited range of moderate to very weak binding affinity at their receptors in direct contrast to the hazardous synthetics.
Original source: Natural Cannabinoids Cannot Kill – Opiods Can, and Do!