The first ever death attributed to marijuana use has proponents and opponents of the drug’s legalization up in arms.
In a study of the sharp increase of emergency room calls in Colorado following that state’s legalization of marijuana for recreational use, one report attributed the death of an 11-month-old boy to the ingestion of the drug. A subsequent study that looked deeper into the boy’s death determined the actual cause of death was an inflammation of the heart muscles, which was either caused or exacerbated by the presence of THC—the psychotropic chemical found in marijuana—in his bloodstream.
Studies in the past, however, have already established a likely connection between heart-related deaths and marijuana use, both in the U.S. and in Europe. More research is under way to test the direct link and see how various levels of use and exposure impact pre-existing conditions.
The direct connection between the presence of the drug in the Colorado child and his death is admittedly shaky, which has a number of marijuana proponents up in arms about the researchers’ claims. They say he results were stilted in order to give ammo to opponents who want the legalization overturned.
But, some proponents are forced to admit Colorado’s attempts to prevent accidental ingestion of “edibles” by children have been complete failures. Emergency room visits have doubled, while poison-control calls have quintupled for children who accidentally eat the drug.
In most cases, those exposures have resulted in minor outpatient treatments, but there have been major medical emergencies related to THC exposure.
Adding an attributed death to the mix has opponents of legalization outraged that more isn’t being done to rein in the problem. Meanwhile, more states are considering legalization.