Mail Online 26 February 2014
It is possible to die as a direct result of smoking cannabis, new research shows. German scientists have identified two people who died purely as a result of smoking the drug. It was previously known that using marijuana could be fatal if it was used in conjunction with other drugs – such as by triggering heart conditions or by causing cancer. However, whether the drug could kill unaided had remained unclear, New Scientist reports. Now, scientists at the University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany have carried out the first full post mortem examinations on people who have died after using the drug.
The team, led by Dr Benno Hartung, carried out 15 examinations. They performed tests including toxicology tests and genetic tests to rule out any other causes of death. They discovered that the deaths of two of the patients could not be put down to anything other than marijuana use. Both of these people were men who had died after their hearts started beating either too fast or too slowly. The researchers believe that this change in heart rhythm – called arrhythmia – was caused by cannabis. The reason they came to this conclusion was that both had smoked the drug within a few hours of their death and neither had any history of heart problems.
….David Raynes from the UK National Drug Prevention Alliance told New Scientist: ‘These deaths are rare and will remain rare. The real risks are from long-term effects on the young brain.’ His comment is based on the fact that previous studies have shown a link between smoking cannabis and schizophrenia and depression.