Is this the first-ever death from marijuana overdose?

  • 17/11/2017

Two scientists are claiming to have documented the first ever death due to an overdose of marijuana - an 11-month-old baby.

In a case report published in journal Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine, two poison control doctors from Denver, Colorado say the boy died of a heart attack possibly brought on by ingesting marijuana.

"The only thing that we found was marijuana - high concentrations of marijuana in his blood - and that's the only thing we found," Christopher Hoyte told the Reno Gazette Journal

"The kid never really got better. And just one thing led to another and the kid ended up with a heart stopped. And the kid stopped breathing and died."

The report states the baby's official cause of death was a heart attack, but a virus usually responsible for inflammation of the heart in young children was not found in the baby's system. 

The report summarises that in this case, the inflammation was likely caused by exposure to cannabis.

"Given the existing relationship between cannabis and cardiovascular toxicity… the authors propose a relationship between cannabis exposure in this patient and myocarditis, leading to cardiac arrest and ultimately death."

"As of this writing, this is the first reported paediatric death associated with cannabis exposure," Dr Hoyte said.

The science isn't settled, however, with other doctors disagreeing with the pair's conclusion.

"I'm going to have to call 'BS' on this one," Noah Kaufman, an emergency medicine specialist told the Journal. "I'm not saying that it's not. But I think it's a pretty big leap to say that it is

Critics also say there is no definitive link between marijuana and heart inflammation, with prior cases involving other drugs in addition to marijuana. They also note myocarditis often happens with no testable cause.

The authors also admit they don't know how much marijuana the child ingested or when he ate it. 

He died two years ago. The initial case report was published in March, but the authors have only just given their first interview about it.