The First Recorded Death from Cannabis? How Two Colorado Doctors are Making Headlines – and Spreading False Information

A recently released report on the 2015 death of an 11-month-old infant has attracted national headlines. Two Colorado-based doctors, the authors of the report, believe this child’s death to be the first attributed directly to cannabis consumption.

At first look this is alarming, and of course devastating to the family who lost their baby boy. Keeping cannabis away from children is necessary, and something we firmly believe in. We do not believe in fearmongering, however. Looking at the headlines surrounding this case alone, it became clear to me that even the reporting news stations aren’t ‘picking a side,’ so to speak. The claim of the ‘first marijuana death’ has come only from these two doctors, and has raised disagreements regarding their conclusions in the medical community. Why? The reports came up inconclusive. In no way does this data clearly point to cannabis as the cause of death. The child died of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that caused the heart to fail. There were no causational markers demonstrating that the minimal presence of cannabis in his system had any relation to the myocarditis.

Essentially, these doctors couldn’t figure out what caused the myocarditis, and because there was THC present in the urine, a sign that it had long been processed prior to hospitalization, they concluded that cannabis was the cause. But wait—it gets worse. These doctors flat out lied on television. In his interview with local Colorado CBS station 9 News, Doctor Christopher Hoyte says, “The only thing that we found [in the child’s system] was marijuana. High concentrations of marijuana in his blood. And that’s the only thing we found.” This is in direct contradiction to the report they published. In the report, immediately following their mention of the presence of THCA, the non-psychoactive version of THC, they state the blood also tested positive for: “. . . undetectable serum acetaminophen and salicylate concentrations. Route and timing of exposure to cannabis were unknown.” In case you aren’t familiar, acetaminophen is the main active ingredient in Tylenol, and salicylate is a major ingredient in Aspirin and other NSAIDs known to cause a myriad of health issues.

Marijuana Overdose Death Colorado Doctors

While these drugs may have been given at the hospital and are legal over-the-counter medicines, they have also specifically been linked to deaths by myocarditis and other heart complications. Furthermore, any number of combinations of these drugs could have negatively impacted the child’s health, particularly the cocktail blend given at a hospital. Uniquely, the child is said to have had “(CNS) depression and then went into cardiac arrest. The patient was lethargic for two hours after awakening that morning and then had a seizure.” If one thing has been proven regarding cannabis, it’s the plant’s efficacy treating seizures. Similarly, to state that marijuana was “the only thing we found” in the report, when in fact there were other chemicals present, is misleading. Especially when those chemicals are known to cause the very disorder from which the child died.

I’m one hundred percent for more education and research surrounding cannabis. I don’t doubt there will be a day when we find something ‘wrong’ with weed. One thing we do know, however: it doesn’t kill people. It’s by no means a catch-all, cure-all drug, and like other substances, may have negative interactions with other drugs. We need more research, particularly considering the plethora of prescription drugs shoved at Americans every day. However, it will never be acceptable to falsely promote misinformation under the guise of research. That is a disgrace to the medical and scientific community.

Children should not have access to cannabis, even if it can’t kill them. If you’re a parent or only occasionally have a niece or nephew over, please, keep your stash locked up. It only takes a few moments to child-proof your stash, the same amount of time it took us to debunk this ‘research’ in the time of Fake News.


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