Coroner Claims Woman Killed By First Ever 'THC overdose' In US
A coroner in the US has stood by his decision in ruling that a woman died of a THC overdose, even though experts have doubted the conclusion.
THC is the active ingredient in cannabis and is thought to be one of the few drugs that are notoriously difficult to OD on.
As reported by The Independent, most deaths following its use are attributed to heart problems that already existed and the presence of a drug in a person's system does not prove it was their cause of death.
However, coroner Dr Christy Montegut, of St John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana, has confirmed that he believed that unnamed 39-year-old woman died in February because she vaped THC oil.
Speaking to New Orleans Advocate, Dr Montegut said: "It looked like it was all THC because her autopsy showed no physical disease or afflictions that were the cause of death. There was nothing else identified in the toxicology - no other drugs, no alcohol. There was nothing else."
He added: "I'm thinking this lady must have vaped this THC oil and got a high level in her system and (it) made her stop breathing, like a respiratory failure."
The toxicology report showed that the woman had 8.4 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood in her system - allegedly a result of vaping the highly concentrated oil.
In Colorado, which legalised the drug for recreational use in 2013, set the legal limit for driving while using cannabis at 5 nanograms per millilitre.
In Louisiana itself where the woman died, the state Department of Health said all other deaths he had seen recorded with mentions of THC involvement were combined with another drug.
There is controversy surrounding the legalisation of cannabis in the some states across the US, which would allow people to consume the drug in small amounts.
Keith Humphreys, a former drug expert for the White House, told the Advocate that if it was actually possible to OD on THC, there would be many deaths - although currently there are none reported.
Mr Humphreys said: "We know from really good survey data that Americans use cannabis products billions of times a year, collectively. Not millions of times, but billions of times a year.
"So that means that if the risk of death was one in a million, we would have a couple thousand cannabis overdose deaths a year."
Featured Image Credit: PA