While one can’t necessarily overdose on cannabis, there have been instances where potent edibles have resulted in hospital visits, Gizmodo is reporting. A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology detailed the story one 70-year-old man who used a THC-infused lollipop to get to sleep and ended up having a heart attack. It should be noted that this man did have a pre-existing heart condition — coronary artery disease, a condition where the buildup of plaque in arteries narrows blood flow to the heart. Still, the man hadn’t had a flare-up for the past two years and was regularly taking his medication.
What he didn’t expect, however, was for the “marijuana lollipop” to cause hallucinations. Within a mere 30 minutes of consuming the lollipop, the man was panicking. He dabbled with marijuana a few times when he was younger but probably wasn’t used to the amount of THC that is used in edibles nowadays. He also ended up consuming the entire thing because he wasn’t feeling its effects right away, while regular edible-users nowadays are aware that the effects of edibles often have a delayed onset.
This resulted in him consuming a much higher dose of THC, which caused terrifying hallucinations. The anxiety from his hallucinations combined with his heart condition turned into a perfect storm — a heart attack. While he survived, his heart condition did worsen from the experience and his ability to exercise and perform daily tasks was negatively effected.
While there have been studies showing that cannabis can actually cause anxiety rather than lessen it in some users, not much is known about links between cannabis and heart troubles. It has been documented that two years ago, an 11-month-old baby died from a heart condition after ingesting cannabis, making it the first fatal cannabis overdose ever on record. Doctors later clarified that while they found a potential link that is worth looking into, they didn’t actually find any evidence that the marijuana directly caused the death.
“Marijuana can be a useful tool for many patients, especially for pain and nausea relief,” said study author Alexandra Saunders, a cardiologist and chief resident in the internal medicine program at Dalhousie University in New Brunswick. “At the same time, like all other medications, it does carry risk and side effects.”
The 70-year-old man who suffered from the heart attack and the researchers involved in the study are all from Canada, where cannabis was recently legalized for recreational use nationwide. Legalization in the United States is still slow-going, and is making its way slowly state by state.