Could It Be? Did A Marijuana Overdose Cause Someone To Die In Colorado?
For so long now, people, and even the scientific and medical community have stood fast on the idea that nobody has ever, nor will ever, die from a Marijuana Overdose. Even to the point where they would claim that it was medically impossible. Well, two doctors from the Colorado Poison Control Center claim to have actually documented one. This, of course, has sent many people into a proverbial defensive rage.
KUSA NBC Channel 9 out of Denver Colorado reports on this story:
Two poison control doctors claim to have documented the first known case of death by marijuana overdose, sparking a medical debate over what killed an 11-month-old baby in Colorado two years ago.
The case report (which you can see below) was published in the journal Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine and is co-authored by a pair of doctors at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, which is housed at Denver Health.
The doctors behind the case report, Doctors Thomas Nappe and Christopher Hoyte, worked on the baby’s care as part of their duties at the regional poison control center. They claim that damage to the child’s heart muscle, which was listed as the boy’s cause of death, was brought on by ingesting marijuana. This is the first news story in which either of the doctors publicly discussed the case that was published in a medical journal in March of this year.
“The only thing that we found was marijuana. High concentrations of marijuana in his blood. And that’s the only thing we found,” Hoyte said. “The kid never really got better. And just one thing led to another and the kid ended up with a heart stop. And the kid stopped breathing and died.”
Other doctors are deeply skeptical of the strong language used in the report.
“That statement is too much. It’s too much as far as I’m concerned,” said Dr. Noah Kaufman, an emergency medicine specialist based in Northern Colorado. “Because that is saying confidently that this is the first case. ‘We’ve got one!’ And I still disagree with that.”
It’s widely accepted as fact that marijuana overdoses are not fatal. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration fact sheet on pot says simply that “no death from an overdose of marijuana has been reported” and the National Institutes of Health says there is “insufficient evidence” to link THC overdose to fatalities.
Now, I am sure that there will be a lot of challenges to this theory, and a lot more research will be done. But, if this, in fact, is the first actual overdose death; it is going to put a lot of preconceived notions in jeopardy. The claim that an overdose death happened in Colorado has the potential to change the way people think about the steady march toward marijuana legalization in the US.
Marijuana legalization has led to more deaths and injuries being blamed on marijuana intoxication in Colorado.
According to CBS4 Denver:
Daniel Juarez, an 18-year-old from Brighton, died Sept. 26, 2012 after stabbing himself 20 times. In an autopsy report that had never been made public before, his THC level — the active ingredient in marijuana — was measured at 38.2 nanograms. In Colorado, anything over 5 nanograms is considered impaired for driving.
A police report in the death notes that the THC in the teenager’s blood was “almost 11 times more than the average amount found in a male using marijuana.”
Police and medical personnel suspected the marijuana Juarez smoked might have been laced with methamphetamine or another substance that could have triggered the irrational behavior. The autopsy shows that tests were done for amphetamines, synthetic stimulants, and synthetic cannabinoid drugs, but all those tests were negative.
Levy Thamba Pongi, a 19-year-old college student jumped from a Denver balcony to his death in 2014 after eating marijuana edibles. Marijuana intoxication was listed as a factor in his death.
Richard Kirk of Denver is accused of killing his wife, Kristine. Before her death, she called police and said her husband seemed to be hallucinating after ingesting marijuana edibles and prescription medications.
Luke Goodman killed himself in Keystone in March shortly after ingesting marijuana edibles. His mother told CBS4 she believes the marijuana caused her son to kill himself. An autopsy report showed Goodman’s THC level at 3.1 nanograms, below the impaired driving limit.
On May 18, 2012, Tron Dohse was returning to his Thornton apartment after attending a Rockies game. When he arrived home he had apparently lost his keys so he attempted to climb the outside of the apartment building to get to his balcony and gain access to his apartment.
He fell to his death, which was ruled an accident. According to his autopsy report, Dohse’s THC level was 27.3 nanograms, more than five times the Colorado limit for impaired driving.
No, pot is not the safest thing you can put in your body.
In a 2014 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors from the National Institutes of Health published an article entitled, “Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use” and wrote, “Both immediate exposure and long-term exposure to marijuana impair driving ability; marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently reported in connection with impaired driving and accidents, including fatal accidents. There is a relationship between the blood THC concentration and performance in controlled driving-simulation studies.”
The authors go on to write, “Recent marijuana smoking and blood THC levels of 2 to 5 ng per milliliter are associated with substantial driving impairment.”
The doctors who wrote the article concluded, “During intoxication, marijuana can interfere with cognitive function and motor function and these effects can have detrimental consequences.”