Doctors Who Reported Child Marijuana Fatality Now Backing Off Claim

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Now that more than 22 million people report using marijuana in any given month, the potential health benefits (and risks) of the plant are coming under more scrutiny than ever.

A frequently cited note in marijuana advocates’ fight to reschedule marijuana on the Controlled Substances List is the big “zero” next to the plant in the “overdose fatalities” field. Weed has never killed anyone — at least until this week, claimed two doctors in Colorado.

But now, they may be walking those claims back a bit.

A case report published in the August issue of the medical journal Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine reported the first death attributed solely to cannabis toxicity in world history. There has been tremendous backlash against the report from doctors, researchers, and cannabis advocates due to doubts that cannabis could be the main contributing factor, as previous research states that an absurdly large amount of marijuana (1,500 pounds) would have to be consumed in a relatively short amount of time (15 minutes) to overdose on the plant. Unfortunately, it was an 11-month-old male whose death is at the center of the controversy.

The doctors in the case report claimed reckless neglect on the parents part led to cannabis exposure by the child, which resulted in a depression of the central nervous system and ultimately cardiac arrest. In an autopsy performed on the child, myocarditis was diagnosed, which is a rare condition that causes inflammation of the heart and is sometimes drug-induced.

Once the report’s claims hit the newswire, virality ensued and people were generally shocked that cannabis was being credited with its first cause of death attribution. The doctors who co-authored the report were seemingly caught off guard by the reaction and quickly issued a clarification.

“We are absolutely not saying that marijuana killed that child,” said Thomas Nappe, one of the authors and the director of medical toxicology at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, P.A.

Nappe explained that he and his co-author Christopher Hoyte were merely stating what they observed in the child’s autopsy and relayed the information to the medical community via the case report. The report was simply meant to be a jumping-off point for more research, as the co-authors felt the relationship between the cannabis and myocarditis warranted further investigation.

One important note Nappe added was that while the case report stated, “this is the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis exposure,” the term “associated” certainly doesn’t imply a cause and effect relationship.

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

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Used to write about music for XXL, Elevator, Complex, Genius, and a few other outlets. Follow @LongLiveTheDuke on Twitter if you'd like to read way fewer words by me.

24 Comments

  1. Thomas E. "PhatTommy" Sheldon on

    I have said for some time (since i got my 1st card, in fact), that $150 was WAY too high for a 1-year card. In Arizona we have a HUGE amount of Retirees, who are:
    A) On fixed incomes, making State fees prohibitive.
    B) Spending copious amounts on insurance, prescriptions, etc.
    C) The very people who would benefit most from Cannabis (in all its forms).
    It is true that the State is over-funded by card cost. At the same time, no thought has (apparently) been given to the Elderly, the Military, or others who cannot afford the relief they so desperately need (although Food Stamp recipients get a 50% reduction in State Fees, WAIT, SAY WHAT???).

    PhatTommy Says)

    • I know that the $150 is an Individual pay to play money to have Arizona run a Monopoly, against federal law. How, does the $150 benefit Arizonans, it continues to create vast amount of “Crowdfunding” for our State. I know and feel, each year, the money is, well, abuse by our state upon the Illness of the community. They, all, the entire system is “Money” focus. The price of marijuana, has dropped from $12-10 – 9 to some $7 grams for MMJ. When and if the Recreational passes, then the price will come down even more. In California, you can purchase from MMJ or Rec retails, the price of Pounds from 2015 were Wholesale 3,000 and now in 2017(almost 2018), in California, price is Half what it was, $1600-1400, is price for WS pound. Do you think you see this in the industry, passing these savings onto you, the Patients? I know what I think, is they have to compete, they must price what ever the market will bare. Prices are on the way down, so while $150 per year has not changed, in the three years I have had the card in Arizona, the prices has dropped from $12 a gram Tip Top Shelf to $10 for the same, with discounts of $7-9 gram price, at some discount dispensaries, Natures and Bloom, both have running discounts daily, weekly. I would love to see $50 per year renewals but not at the cost of no program at all. We Pay to Play, in Arizona!

      • Now that marijuana is legal in Nevada my cost (if I go to a dispensary) has risen considerably. The cost for a 1/4 oz of what I used to get on the street is 20 to 30% higher and then you have the state and the city adding taxes on top of that. I’d guess I’m spending 50% more than before for the same amount of product. It almost makes you wish it hadn’t been legalized. The myth of lower prices isn’t playing out here. The black market will get rolling again shortly I’m sure, as people get fed up with the government greed.

        • Leo "Skip" Dearing on

          Dear Mr. Spork, I could not agree more with you! I also live in Nevada and also like you I have seen prices take a huge leap since 1 July of this year. Chalk it all up to greed on many people’s part but it is hurting the people who can least afford it. Retired, Disabled vets, seniors, just folks trying to get by being hammered by taxes. As far as this article goes, any story with these words in it are suspect: sometimes, claims, generally, seemingly and associated, all words used by a MD. trying to weasel out of a misdiagnosis. What a pair of dumb asses.

          • It will get better, you guys just barely got going. Uncharted territory, for me paying a little extra is worth it. Don’t have to deal with the kids.

        • Relax, you’re going through the same growing pains the rest of us did. I am in OR and the prices have started to come down pretty quickly. You have to remember this is a huge experiment for the whole country and will have bugs to work out. Plus not having to deal with the flaky kids is worth the extra right there. Walk in and look around, smell a few and pick what you want and out the door you go.

    • That’s terrible. They should give a break to 60 plus users, and if they show a receipt of their financial records, a discounted fee for that as well. That info could be passed along? Good luck..happy holidays 🕎🎄

  2. The doctors in the case report claimed reckless neglect on the parents part led to cannabis exposure by the child, which resulted in a depression of the central nervous system and ultimately cardiac arrest. The doctors who co-authored the report were seemingly caught off guard by the reaction and quickly issued a clarification.

  3. If Nevada follows the trend in Washington, Colorado and Oregon, the steady growth in the number and output of licensed grow operations against a generally static demand will have the effect of bringing down prices.

    • Crystal Campisi on

      Actually, we have NOT seen that to be the case in CA. What used to be $8/gram is now $10, and top shelf is now $15. I used to get $20 eighths, no more. Eighhs are $30-$50, and they really hype the top shelf quality. Prices are RISING~ and when recreational comes in, they will rise more, and add another 10% in taxes, totaling 30%. The law of supply and demand setting the price does not seem to work with MJ at all. Supplies are rising on a steady base of demand, and prices are rising, too!

      • You guys are just getting started too, plus the fact CA has so much weed growing anyway, rec is causing a little heartburn to the long-term local growers. CA doesn’t even have rec going yet does it?? So you don’t know at this point what kind of prices you will have. Here the medical is tax free and the rec is at 21% I think. It’s already come down along with prices, and yes once you get going and more stores open up the prices will change. At least they did here. Seems you’re jumping the gun here.

      • I don’t know where you’re buying, but prices at my dispensary have gone down. A top-shelf eighth used to be $40, now it’s $30-35. And much more of the flowers are coming from branded growers, instead of unnamed sources.

        • Which is why Big Pharma wants total control. Force the public to separate all the goodness into its components, sell each separately, jack up all the prices and gouge as much as they can. Bribe the crooked politicians into handing over a monopoly or Oligarical corporate control to the very ones addicting Americans the most with Opiods, funding wars and Warlords in Afghanistan.

    • I responded to an article published in a major newspaper and circulated on the MD professional network Doximity. As a UCSF/Stanford trained MD with a Ph.D equivalent in postdoctoral training in emergency medicine and ABEM certification for over a decade, I take exception with a case report that does not include the findings of ER urine drug testing for delta 9-THC and or it’s metabolites. Nowhere are there stated toxicological findings that support this claim. Experts in the human endocannabinoid system agree there are no CB1 receptors in the deep brain and brainstem regions that regulate heart and respiratory rate. There is also confusion about the mental status and vital signs of the child. It is reported the child had a seizure. There is no established connection between cannabis use and myocarditis indeed cannabis has been proven to demonstrate immune modulating and antiinflammatory effects that might have mitigated these symptoms. Myocarditis is most frequently associated with viral infections and infants and children are the most common hosts for viral infections!

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