It's long been said that no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. There have been deaths from car accidents in which people were driving impaired from the drug, but never an actual direct overdose.
A woman who died in Lousiana recently, according to a local coroner, is the first to do so. But others are skeptical.
According to TV station WWL, the 39-year-old woman died in her apartment in February. The woman's cause of death at first appeared mysterious, and an autopsy found that the woman, who had "relatively healthy organs and no signs of illness." However, the medical examiner found "elevated levels of THC," the active ingredient in marijuana.
The woman, who smoked marijuana through a vaping pen, had a THC level of 8.4 nanograms per milliliter of blood, which is estimated at 15 times the discretion threshold. The coroner therefore ruled the death as due to THC overdose.
However, the conclusion has been questioned, per the news report. The woman's boyfriend told police she had gone to the hospital with a chest infection weeks earlier. And doctors interviewed by the TV station said they had never heard of such a case, and that THC shouldn't affect users' breathing. Doctors did tell the station that marijuana is getting more powerful than it used to be, including edible products.
Others reacting to the news story have disagreed with the doctor's conclusion.
"NO!," Ryan Marino, a doctor, tweeted in reaction to the article. "This isn't how process of elimination or determining cause of death work. Millions of Americans use cannabis DAILY and there are no cases of people dying from it on record."Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter and author of a book called Tell Your Children, which argues that marijuana is more dangerous than often believed, tweeted the following in reaction to the Louisiana article.
"The 'marijuana never killed anyone' idiots now have a coroner's report to try to shout down. Delightful."
Marijuana laws, over the course of the past 15 years, have been significantly relaxed in several parts of the country, first for medical usage of the drug, and later for recreational use. Per The Street, the latter is now legal in 11 U.S. states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington), as well as Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. Illinois, per the Chicago Tribune, recently passed a law to legalize marijuana completely.
Louisiana, where the overdose case happened, has marijuana illegal if not used for medical purposes.