Two doctors in Colorado published a case report about what many are calling the first marijuana overdose death.
The doctors, Thomas Nappe and Christopher Hoyte, wrote the report about an 11-month-old boy who died from a heart attack in 2015, New York Daily News reports. The infant was rushed to the hospital after he suffered a seizure. His guardian told doctors examining the child, including Nappe and Hoyte, that the boy had been retching and was lethargic the previous few days.
The child was given a breathing tube after becoming unresponsive, and his heart stopped shortly after. Doctors were unable to resuscitate him.
After the infant’s death, Nappe and Hoyte found tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main ingredient in marijuana, in his blood and urine.
They also discovered that the boy had myocarditis, a condition that is rare in children. Myocarditis causes the heart muscles to stop working.
Hoyte and Nappe wrote in their report that they tried to find a cause for the infant’s myocarditis but failed to do so.
“The only thing that we found was marijuana. High concentrations of marijuana in his blood. And that’s the only thing we found. The kid never really got better. And just one thing led to another and the kid ended up with a heart stopped. And the kid stopped breathing and died.”
They added that his death may be associated with a high amount of cannabis consumed in a short amount of time.
“As of this writing, this is the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis exposure.”
However, Nappe clarified to The Washington Post that he and his co-author did not mean that marijuana overdose was the cause of the child’s death.
“We are absolutely not saying that marijuana killed that child.”
The doctors simply meant to call attention to the case and note that there may be a relationship between the marijuana the child consumed and his myocarditis.
The doctors found that the child had experienced an “unstable motel-living situation,” and advised parents living in states where marijuana is legalized to keep the substance away from children.
Jonathan Caulkins, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, said that it might be possible that a cannabis-overdose caused the child’s death because the substance “can accelerate the heart.”
However, Keith Humphreys, a Stanford University psychiatry professor who served as a senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Obama administration, advises that “it would not be correct to go from this to a generalized panic about the lethality of cannabis.”
“It’s just not there. This is not an omen of a disaster to come.”
[Feature photo: Pixabay]