It is impossible to overdose from cannabis

Dr Kudair Hussein verdict questioned: Cannabis toxicity not cause of death

By Greg de Hoedt

The media in Britain have promoted a story sensationally claiming that a 31 year old woman has become the first to die in Britain of “cannabis toxicity”. Taking the evidence into account can this be possible?

The toxicity of a substance is measured by a scale known as LD50. This scale measures the ratio between the amount needed to get an effect vs the amount needed to be a lethal dose. Cannabis’ LD50 stands at 1:20,000-1:40,000. This means if one joint gives you the desired effect, you’ll need 20-40,000 joints to reach a lethal dose. It is believed that asphyxiation would actually be the cause of death were this to happen.

The level of cannabis in Gemma Moss’ system was by no means too high.

Pathologist, Dr Kudair Hussein, gave evidence at the Inquest stating that 0.5-1.5ml of THC per litre was found in her blood, claiming this was a moderate to high level. But this is disputable as what is considered a high level of THC can vary massively from person to person.

For example, cancer patients using cannabis as a treatment option have a daily regime of ingesting 1 gram of concentrated cannabis oil daily. This is the equivalent of 10 grams of cannabis taken at once and this is then repeated for 60 days straight as their treatment course.

THC Lethal Dose is 20,000 to 40,000 times the active dose. In other words, you would have to smoke a truckload to overdose.

Science says cannabis can’t kill.

Two US states have now legalised recreational cannabis sales and have introduced regulatory measures before the product can be sold. Cannabis testing labs are common and analyse thousands of different varieties of the plant on a monthly basis – they see the strongest cannabis in the world and analyse for any any contamination, pesticides or herbicides.

We have not heard whether the remaining cannabis found near Miss Moss’ body was tested. Certainly running standard analytical tests as police do when they bust someone for dealing cannabis would show if this was indeed just cannabis or something stronger. It is not uncommon to see real herbal cannabis sprayed with a synthetic high to increase potency. Where are the rest of the people that smoked it and have there been any other hospital admissions in the area for cannabis induced tachycardia or other pulmonary problems?

In the first week of legal regulation for recreational cannabis going on sale, $5million was taken in by registered outlets. Not one death has been reported, nor has it been since 1996 when Medical Marijuana laws were first passed in California; mainly won by the support of patients using cannabis to slow the progression and lessen the symptoms with HIV and AIDS.

The media have reported she recently stopped using prescription drugs and it is important to note that many guidelines for Pharmaceutical drugs provide a warning not to stop taking them suddenly as this can shock the system and can be fatal. Medications for depression, anxiety and mental health often carry this warning.

A Nottingham University of Medicine study in 1999 funded by the British Heart Foundation showed that Anandamide, the endocannabinoid that is the bodies own version of THC the psychoactive part of cannabis is responsible for reducing blood pressure and relaxes blood vessels.

“These are natural substances present in all our bodies that seem to have important effects on our circulation,” said Professor Brian Pentecost, medical director of the British Heart Foundation. He added he was hopeful “[this] project will shed new light on how we could use these effects to help heart patients.”

Greg de Hoedt, of NORML UK, in Cardiff.

Greg de Hoedt, speaking outside the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff.

Cannabinoids have also been shown to stabalise breathing in studies for its effects on Sleep Apnea, a condition that causes breathing too shallow or completely stopping to breathe while asleep. The published medical study concludes “This study demonstrates potent suppression of sleep-related apnea by both exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids.” It was added that it was important in the development in pathogenesis to sleeping related diseases. This would add further doubt that causes death in sleep and may even show that it helps prevent sleeping related deaths.

The police spend £500m a year on cannabis investigations in the UK – why is it that testing cannabis is important when it comes to putting someone behind bars, but not when it’s to help find the cause of death if cannabis has been implicated? Surely if it had been a powder found under Miss Moss at the scene of her death then lab analysis would have been carried out as part of standard procedure?

With these points considered the science suggests that “cannabis toxicity” was not the cause of Gemma Moss’ death. NORML UK would recommend that a panel of doctors well researched in cannabis and humans undertake a review to assess the circumstances surrounding Miss Moss’ death, in order to determine what it was that actually killed her. We also believe that Dr Hussein should be held accountable for what is at best ignorance and at worst a willful disregard of scientific fact. Miss Moss’ family deserve to know what actually happened, they do not deserve to have their family members memory tainted by sensationalist and unscientific headlines and news reports.

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0 Comments

  1. The incompetence or not of this pathologist needs to be investigated by at least his professional body.The place he works at should be sent information addressed to him about cannabis relative to this case. He clearly seems to know little about it. As well does he have an agenda against cannabis?

    Did the unfortunate lady have any history of heart problems? I monitor my heartbeat with an oximeter when medicinally using cannabis,and it shows no significant difference to my normal rate.

    If cannabis stays in the body for long periods after using it although not in a psychoactive sense can this give false amount consumed reading?

    It is reasonable to assume she may have suffered from sudden death syndrome,as well was she on any prescription drugs? Furthermore if she was a regular user she may have had a tolerance to cannabis making it more unlikely she would suffer adverse affects.

    If it was my family I would demand a second opinion.

  2. 0.5 to 1.5 ml THC per litre of blood?!
    I’m sure this would be described as ‘monster’, not ‘moderate to high’ 🙂
    0.1 to 0.15 mg (milligram) THC per litre is what I’ve seen reported.
    1ml of THC would be over 1000mg…

    Well, that’s a minor point compared to Dr Hussein’s total lack of science.
    The logical fallacy of ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ – “it happened _after_ smoking weed; therefore, it happened _because_ of smoking weed.”

  3. I do not understand how such misinformation can be published. I am pleased that there is an organisation addressing this. I am also surprised and how a qualified doctor could be so wrongly informed. And this is another direct result of criminalising cannabis. If it was studied and known rather than demonised the pathologist would know he was talking nonsense. I expect some type of redress but doubt it will happen.

    The other thing that bothers me about the news stories are the way the woman being a mother is being brought up and the cultural inference is that a mother should know better. The poor woman’s name is being tarnished as some type of irresponsible mother because of her cannabis use. But there are many of us out there, smoking, raising happy, loved, balanced children but instead of a glass of wine at the end of a hard day or week we recreationally use cannabis. And not just to “help us sleep”.

  4. Even if cannabis was to blame for this death in overdose it is still a very rare occurrence (in fact this seems to be the first recorded case). It is far more common for some one who has consumed alcohol to die in their sleep – usually from choking on vomit (although this seems not to newsworthy in any way). Again the response to a possible cannabis side-effect (if actually proven) is completely disproportionate when compared to the attitude to proven lethal side-effects of legal medicines and alcohol. In America research has shown that paracetamol causes 100s of deaths each year by inducing liver failure but you can still purchase a potentially lethal dose almost anywhere. An ‘LD50’ (enough for for 50% of the population or more to not survive) dose of alcohol can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18 for less than £10 in Britain.

  5. This scare mongering is irresponsable and to me eveidence that the UK press ,NHS and government are all in this together…In some country club of big wigs somewhere plans to delay the enevitable are in place…Medical Marijuane is on its way to our shores,that is fact, the profits of pharma companies will one day be affected…let alone the budgets of police forces,customs, courts ect all cut…And its a freedom gained by people who have got used to loosing freedom,to give people the right to self medicate and even grow cannabis will no doubt start producing more Bob Marley`s,John Lennons ect type of people ,who do damage to the rich with there hippy like views of freedom to all…best to keep it under wraps until they have to,a bit of scaremongering works a treat and will line the pockets of the rich for that bit longer.
    It also takes me back to being a 14 year old being told all drugs are evil and will kill you,get you addicted and make you a scum bag ect…and seeing all around me they dont,well especialy cannabis,they are not and the lies i was told ment i had to find out for my self the truth,coriousity killed the cat lol after learning and experimenting, I am glad I discovered the truth, took a few years and many other substances, but now like any one who uses cannabis knows not to trust what you read and to look deeper as the truth is hidden for a reason.

  6. If she had, in overconfidence or being kept busy by duties with children, stopped taking medications for anxiety or depression– and then, confronted with an anxious situation, suddenly taken an overhasty hard hit off the joint that was found half-used nearby later, and suffered a cardiac arrest associated with heat shock, carbon monoxide and 4221 combustion poisons, this would not represent an indictment of cannabis but rather an advertisement for Vaporisers and smooth tokes off a Long-Stemmed One-Hitter.

  7. I often think you have to ‘follow the money’ when dealing with a situation that apparently does not make sense I.e. cannabis being illegal. Who would loose out if it were legalised? Possibly pharma companies selling paracetamol and ibruprophen? Cannabis seems to do the pain killing job better than these products in my experience. And getting stoned on it is more fun than alcohol and there is no hangover! May the alcohol industry is worried too!

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