Our Thoughts on the 'First Marijuana Overdose Death'


Our Thoughts on the 'First Marijuana Overdose Death'


An 11-month old boy, suffering from a seizure, was admitted to a Colorado hospital in 2015. The child was intubated in the emergency room, but tragically his heart stopped and he passed away.


Two poison control physicians, Dr. Christopher Hoyte and Dr. Thomas Nappe, of Colorado's Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Center wanted to find out if marijuana ingestion was the cause of death. “We just wanted to make sure that we’re not going to call this a marijuana-related fatality if there was something else that we could point at,” Hoyte told NBC News. “And we looked and couldn’t find it.” 


Their report can be found here.


Bottom line on the report: “As of this writing, this is the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis.” The report also states the child "presented with central nervous system depression after seizure, and progressed to cardiac arrest and died. Myocarditis was diagnosed post-mortem and cannabis exposure was confirmed".

 

For those who oppose cannabis, this gives them fuel for their fire. Knee-jerk reactions will follow this story. Some folks tend to read the headline and then jump the gun on their conclusion. That's something we surely don't want.

  

But I'm not buying that cannabis alone was the cause of death. This is a report - not an independant study. Also, note the word "associated" was used, rather than "caused by" cannabis. The child's official cause of death is listed as myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. 


Could cannabis exposure have been a contributing factor in this child's death?


Possibly, but not likely.


Anyone who has overindulged in THC edibles knows that it can lead to increased heart rate.


My area of expertise is in pharmaceuticals. I studied pharmacology, and worked in a hospital pharmacy for over two decades. I'm also the operations manager for WeedSearch.com, so I'm an active member of the Colorado cannabis industry.

From the information I've gathered, I would think the child died from a cascade of events that took place; including inflammation of the heart muscle, respiratory depression, and seizure. Cannabis exposure may have also played a part - but I am highly skeptical that cannabis was the cause of death.


The DEA clearly states on their marijuana fact sheet found here -


Overdose effects: No death from overdose of marijuana has been reported. 


And I believe that statement is still true.


All forms of cannabis should be kept away from children. If a child does ingest cannabis - symptoms can include drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, agitation, and increased heart rates. If a child has ingested cannabis, get medical help right away. If the child shows signs of serious distress – such as difficulty breathing or unconsciousness – call 911 or go to the closest emergency room. Otherwise, call the child's doctor or the help line of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) at 1-800-222-1222.



USA Today video - Colorado doctors debate first-ever marijuana death

Video snip - Colorado Doctors Debate Marijuana Death


 


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