Wait…Can You Really O.D. on Pot?



A 31-year-old woman is dead. The coroner says cannabis was the reason. Could this really happen?
A super-chill blew through the reefer mad Super Bowl cities of Denver and Seattle last week with the report that a young woman had died of apparent cannabis toxicity in England.

“The evidence does seem to suggest that, like most everything, marijuana inextremely high doses can tip a person or a dog over into a sudden death.”

This one seems real to, not like the early January hoax that “reported” 37 deaths from marijuana in Colorado soon after the law decriminalizing the drug in that state went into effect.

Gemma Moss, a 31-year-old mother of three and, reportedly, a regular marijuana user in the last months of her life, was found dead in her bed in late October. A coroner’s evaluation concluded late last week that the death was attributable to cannabis, an extremely rare determination. The pathologists based their finding on “moderate to high” levels of cannabinoids in blood which, given her otherwise normal heart, lungs, and liver, led him to conclude that pot was the culprit.

In England, at least, hers was the first death-by-weed recorded in a decade.

In the US, there are no official reports of fatalities though an unreferenced (and not locate-able by me—so hedge here) Wiki-answers states that the CDC has counted 26 deaths from 1999 to 2007. But before celebrating, please note, there is a plausible basis for sudden death from cannabis. Like many drugs, marijuana might exert a dangerous effect on the heart in one of two ways: in certain people predisposed to heart rhythm problems, the increase in pulse and blood pressure common during use might trigger a dangerous and even lethalrhythm disturbance.

In addition, there was a study in 2001 that loosely connected recent (consumed within the last hour) use of marijuana and heart attacks. Further work by the same Harvard-based group, published in 2008, suggested that persons with a recent heart attack might have an increased risk of death if they smoked marijuana.  But even this group, which also is interested in caffeine, anger, and other stimulants as triggers for heart attack, in a 2013 publication seemed less certain about the association.

Call it a very mild “maybe.”

One under-represented group though clearly has died of its share of cannabis overdose. A recent report from vets in Colorado noted a distinct increase in canine overdoses, following the legalization of medical marijuana in the state. The paper described 125 dogs who ate too many pot-laced brownies, and the like, and were brought to a specific veterinary center over a six year period. Two dogs died; the others recovered. Urine toxicology screens were not found to be reliable. Autopsies were not performed so the exact cause of the deaths remains uncertain but it’s likely the dogs met a cardiac death.

“The evidence does seem to suggest that, like most everything, marijuana inextremely high doses can tip a person or a dog over into a sudden death.”

A related problem in children has already evidenced itself, too. Kids, it seems, are grabbing baked goods that look and taste just like regular junk food, not realizing it’s junk food on drugs, leading to poisoning…

Read the rest…

The Daily Beast

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