Another “First Ever Marijuana Death” Debunked
Every now and then we will hear another story where “marijuana killed” some poor soul. Every single time we have debunked it and as we approach the mid-way point of 2019, another story surfaced claiming that weed, ended the life of a person.
This however, as always, is completely false. But what lead the coroner to conclude that this individual died solely from cannabis, THC levels in their system of course. When the coroner couldn’t identify any cause, and only found THC in the body, they claimed that marijuana killed them.
However, as one can expect, this was met with a lot of pushback. We’ll go into more details about these details, but let’s get the story straight.
All of this takes place in a place called…LaPlace. There, at St. John the Baptist Parish, Coroner Christy Montegut claimed that a 39-year old women who died in February died of marijuana.
In her own words; “It looked like it was all THC because her autopsy showed no physical disease or afflictions that were the cause of death. There was nothing else identified in the toxicology — no other drugs, no alcohol,” Montegut said. “There was nothing else.”
The problem with this assessment is that there is no other cases to back up the claim. As with all other “marijuana death” claims, there is a lot of information that simply doesn’t check out.
What the Experts are Saying
For starters, let’s take a look at the amount of THC she found in the victim. The deceased had 8.1 nanograms of THC per millimeter of blood. While typical impairment rates for driving is at 2 nanograms, it’s not unheard of people consuming far more than that.
Take a look at Joey Diaz who can scarf down highly potent edibles and not die. Of course, who knows what the medical condition of the woman was before her death, however the idea that 8.1 nanograms was enough to induce respiratory failure is a bit of a stretch.
Even NIDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse, writes on their website that “there has never been a single death attributed to marijuana use alone”.
Typically, when people die and THC is found in the body, there are usually other factors at play. This could be mixing of substances, genetic conditions and so forth.
Research Indicates LD-50 of Cannabis
One thing that is absolutely important to consider is the research conducted by the United States to figure out the safety profile of Cannabis. There is an index called the LD-50.
This essentially refers to a process where rodents are exposed to a certain drug over time. They up the dose until half of the population of the test group has died. The “Lethal-Dose 50” literally refer to when half of test group died directly due to the drug.
This helps us in finding out proper doses for other medicine based on weight and suppositions surrounding the human user.
What’s the LD-50 for marijuana? According to the original research, it has been placed at 1:20,000 and 1:40,000. This means that you would have to smoke the equivalent of about 20,000 joints to induce a fatal overdose. Or in other words, people don’t really know…but it’s way more than 8.1 nanograms.
While assuming that the lady had more than 8.1 nanograms in her system prior to her death, it still won’t come close to breaching the LD-50 of cannabis. Even with highly concentrated extracts, she would still need to consume something like a 100 grams of wax in a matter of 15 minutes to induce death.
Let’s stop assuming
One thing that really enrages me is that people so easily claim things like “Marijuana killed X person” when in reality there are a number of factors still not considered. There have been several cases of “Sudden death”, where folks simply died. They were healthy, they were in their prime and then…death.
Sudden Death is a more plausible argument than cannabis-induced death.
Now don’t get me wrong, if there is a lethal threshold of how much cannabis can kill you, I’d like to know. It wouldn’t influence me consuming it. After all, alcohol is carcinogenic, can lead to violence and can be bad for your health, but I still enjoy some wine or a beer every now and then.
If, and I mean IF, cannabis does have a lethal limit, or if THC in certain concentrations can be hazardous, I’d like to know. However, until we know for sure, which I doubt we ever will, we should stop making these ludicrous claims about cannabis killing people.
Not only is it dishonest, it also distributes misinformation which makes people doubt the medical properties of cannabis. That in turn slows down the legalization process, which leaves people who actually need cannabis for medicine, scrounging around in the black market.