Did a Patient Really Overdose on Marijuana?

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A case report written by two poison control doctors has been misinterpreted causing the belief of the first ever marijuana overdose. The doctors have come forward to assert that it was not intended for the public to take their words out of context that a child overdosed on marijuana.

The doctors, Thomas M. Nappe and Christopher O. Hoyte are the co-authors of the case report and our colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, in Colorado. The very beginning of their report states, “since marijuana legalization, pediatric exposures to cannabis have increased. To date, pediatric deaths from cannabis exposure have not been reported”. The wording that was chosen soon after in the report was what was misleading, “As of this writing, this is the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis exposure”.

Note the word “associated” in the sentence as the only connection discovered was that the child’s cause of death was myocarditis, damage to the heart muscle, and had cannabis in his system with no indication that they are connected. “The only thing that we found was marijuana. High concentrations of marijuana in his blood. And that’s the only thing we found (out of the ordinary),” Hoyte stated. It was later discovered that the child’s living environment was volatile, and the parents possessed illegal substances including cannabis.

The doctors are stating it was never reported that the child’s cause of death was from a marijuana overdose and with their wording they are correct. Due to the report’s unfortunate wording, things were taken out of context and, “we are absolutely not saying that marijuana killed that child,” stated Dr. Nappe. Nappe stated that the pair was considering a “possible” link between the cause of death and marijuana. The doctors wanted to signal the medical community to initiate studies of a potential relationship between marijuana and the inflammation of heart the muscles.

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