Can Pot Be Lethal?

New post-mortem examinations suggest that marijuana can kill.

By Bob Grant | February 24, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, PSYCHONAUGHTIt is possible for cannabis alone to cause death, according to German researchers who performed post-mortem examinations of 15 people. Two of those deaths could not have been caused by anything but cannabis intoxication, the researchers suggest in a study published in Forensic Science International this month (February 14). Benno Hartung of University Hospital Düsseldorf and colleagues examined 15 people whose deaths were linked to cannabis, performing a battery of tests, including autopsy, toxicological and histological testing, and immunohistochemical analyses, in an attempt to isolate the effects of the drug and rule out other factors, such as liver disease and alcohol use. “It’s a diagnosis of exclusion so you have to rule out all other possibilities,” Hartung told New Scientist.

Recent studies have suggested that marijuana use is not as harmful as once believed, and advocates of medical use of the drug commonly cite the statistic that there has not been one recorded incident of someone overdosing on pot. But Hartung and his team claim that two of the deaths they studied, caused by cardiac arrhythmia, were triggered by cannabis use, though a mechanism whereby marijuana can cause such drastic changes in the heartbeat remains elusive. “These deaths are rare and will remain rare,” David Raynes at the UK National Drug Prevention Alliance told New Scientist. “The real risks are from long-term effects on the young brain.”

Still, Hartung recommended that other researchers investigate deaths involving marijuana. “Even though it may be rare, I hope others investigate death by cannabis intoxication in other cities,” he said, “particularly in light of the increased use of cannabis for pain relief,” he told New Scientist.

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Avatar of: Paul Stein

Paul Stein

Posts: 237

February 24, 2014


Could marijuana-induced stupidity have played a role in the deaths?  Here in California late one evening, some teenagers decided to have some fun with a passed out friend by taking an electrical power cord, stripping the insulation, and touching their friend's chest "to see him jump".  It was so funny the first time they did it, they decided to do it over and over and over again.  After a while, they just stopped and fell asleep themselves.  In the morning, everyone awoke...except their friend.  Ventricular fibrillation leaves no evidence for cause of death.  "It's a diagnosis of exclusion so you have to rule out all other possibilities" indeed.






Avatar of: Fart


Posts: 1

February 24, 2014

Scientists never speak in layman's terms! They are basically trying to say that when they died by cardiac arrhythmia the stupid stoners freaked out themselves to death!

Avatar of: Caple


Posts: 1

February 25, 2014

I have been experiencing arrhythmia recently after partaking, but only recently, after more than 40 years of cannabis consumption. This may be caused by one particular strain or by the unnatural elements or compounds that have found their way into those herbs during illegal cultivation. I have no way of knowing if the growing materials are free of a range of poisons and other undesirable additives, not all of which would be traceable post mortem.

Avatar of: JulienB


Posts: 1

February 27, 2014

"Dr. Mechoulam discovered why massive doses of cannabis hasn't killed anybody, not one recorded death. We don't have any cannabinoid Receptors CB1 or CB2 in the Medulla Oblongata, that's the part of the Brain that controls Respiration and Heart rate. So massive doses of many other drugs or even not so massive doses cause Respiratory depression, Cardiac suppression and Death. Massive doses of Marijuana might make people fall a sleep but it doesn't stop their breathing or heart." — Dr. Frank H. Lucido

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