Pot tale of the week

Pot tale of the week

A story out of Boscombe, a suburb of Bournemouth, England has made worldwide news, as well it might. The London Daily Mail reported that 31-year-old Gemma Moss of Boscombe is the first person in human history to die of “cannabis poisoning.” The death occurred in 2013 but has been publicized recently in the wake of marijuana legalization in several states, prompting the fact-checking website Snopes to inquire into it.

The story immediately raised suspicions, akin to those that surfaced in 2000 when a Clark County coroner attributed the death of 21-year-old Danielle Heird to ecstasy use, the first time such a thing had happened when other, more toxic drugs were not involved. The Partnership for a Drug Free America immediately seized on the Heird case and launched a national advertising campaign.

Snopes first discovered that the Daily Mail overstated the coroner’s finding on Gemma Moss. The newspaper used the term poisoning; the coroner did not.

Snopes went on: “Is it Possible to Consume Enough Cannabis to Be Directly Poisoned by Its Toxicity? There is a near universal agreement on the answer to this question: No. While no studies designed to ascertain a lethal dose level for THC—the primary psychoactive component of cannabis—have been undertaken on humans, a number of animal studies suggest that THC’s potential toxicity is remarkably low. … [S]cientists were literally unable to intentionally cause fatal toxicity from cannabis in both dogs and primates. … [D]eath from direct cannabis toxicity is unlikely, as this event is generally viewed to be medically impossible.”

Snopes’ verdict on the claim that Gemma Moss’s death was caused by cannabis poisoning: “unproven.”