Can marijuana overdose lead to death? Coroner says yes, experts say no

Can marijuana overdose lead to death? Coroner says yes, experts say no

July 05, 2019

Can marijuana overdose lead to death? Coroner says yes, experts say no

Marijuana Substance Abuse

In a first of its kind case, Dr. Christy Montegut a coroner at St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana, claimed that an unnamed lady aged 39 died due to cannabis overdose earlier this year. Dr. Montegut claimed that the lady’s autopsy report showed no signs of diseases or other physical complications that could have caused her death. He asserted that her overdose was due to vaping hash oil and confirmed that no traces of alcohol or other drugs were found in her blood stream.

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in the U.S. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, causes the mind-altering and intoxicating effects in users. Used for medicinal and recreational purposes, marijuana users range from teens to the elderly.

Woman vaped concentrated hash oil

According to the lady’s toxicology report, 8.4 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood was found in her system. This was higher than the legal limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood approved by the state of Colorado. Dr. Montegut felt that the high percentage of THC in the woman’s system was a result of vaping concentrated hash oil and further added that this might have led to respiratory failure, making it the probable cause of her death.

The lady’s boyfriend said that she had visited the hospital three weeks prior to her death. The hospital had diagnosed her with a chest infection and was prescribed some over the counter medications. Nonetheless, speaking to WWL-TV, Dr. Montegut said that he had done enough research before coming to this conclusion and was 100 percent sure of his findings.

In the month of May, the state of Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults above the age of 21. This claim by Dr. Montegut comes at a time when more and more states are legalizing marijuana for both medicinal as well as recreational use.

Critique of claim

Despite Dr. Montegut’s claim, several experts were not convinced. Professor David Nutt, UK’s ex-drug czar said that the woman could have died due to increased heart rate and blood pressure, which could have been caused by THC. This is the reason why people with heart conditions are often advised against marijuana use, even for medicinal purposes.

Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation said that the presence of THC in the blood system cannot be the lone proof of cause of death and that such speculations and claims can lead to controversies. He further added that there were approximately 250 million cannabis users globally, therefore a so-called single case of overdose did not make cannabis a high-risk product.

Moreover, Keith Humphreys, a former policy adviser at the White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy, said that cannabis was used as many as a billion times every year in the U.S. Hence if there was even one in a million chance of death due to marijuana overdose, there would have been at least a few thousand deaths each year. In fact, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has stated that other than severe psychotic reactions, no reported deaths due to cannabis overdose have been recorded till date.

However, in spite of the critique of the Dr. Montegut’s assertion, it must be observed that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and has been classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Further, no scientific studies have yet proved its medicinal benefits.

Seeking treatment

Marijuana addiction can be difficult to overcome because of its addictive nature and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. When stopped abruptly, marijuana users can experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, cravings, and disturbed sleeping patterns. Marijuana addiction can be treated with the help of a comprehensive treatment program comprising medically-assisted detoxification at a reliable detox treatment center which should then be followed by behavioral therapy under professional care.

If you or a loved one is suffering from marijuana addiction and is looking for a detox treatment facility, get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. We can connect you with our network facilities that offer evidence-based detox treatment by calling our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 or go online to chat with a representative for further assistance.

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