A Lethal Dose of Daily Fail

Pathologist Dr Kudair Hussein incorrectly believes cannabis can kill

By James Collins

Let me start by saying what we all know: Cannabis cannot kill you by itself.  Sure, if you mix it with all kinds of opioids and liquor and downers and other stuff you might die.  That’s not because of cannabis though, it’s because you’re an idiot and you took way too many drugs together.  It isn’t dangerous that way, period.  That’s one of the advantages of cannabis use; it is the safest psychoactive drug known to man.

Sam Webb writes reefer madness in the Daily Mail following Dr Kudair Hussein's false assertion that cannabis can kill.

Sam Webb

Let us now look at the case of Gemma Moss.  The Daily Mail has published an article by Sam Webb about the inquest concerning her mysterious death.  It seems Gemma, a healthy 31 year old woman, died in her sleep for reasons unknown.  She went to bed one night and simply didn’t get up, quietly slipping into the hereafter while she slept.  She had used a “moderate to heavy” amount of cannabis, according to toxicology reports.  The problem here is that she did not have a lethal dosage of the drug in her system.  In fact, no threshold of lethality has ever been established for any cannabinoid.  Guess work puts that dosage so high that you couldn’t hope to consume so much in a lifetime.

In toxicology there is something known as LD50.  That means “lethal dosage for 50% of the population”.  It is the dosage at which half the human population would die.  In the case of alcohol the lethal dose is somewhere in the range of twice the active dose.  That means if you have twice the blood alcohol content it takes you to get drunk then you are likely to die.  In the case of cannabis that ratio is guessed to be in the range of 5000 times the active dose.

This dosage information was determined during a study where scientists attempted to kill small rodents with THC.  They failed to kill rats at all.  While they managed to make them extremely inactive, and a few of them even grew tiny dreadlocks, the rats simply couldn’t be killed with cannabis.  Smaller rodents like mice succumbed to extreme depression of the nervous system (likely cause of death there would be respiratory failure) at magnificently high doses.  Essentially you would have to eat about ten pounds of cannabis in an hour or so to kill yourself.  If you were smoking it then you would need more than twice that.

Has Dr Kudair Hussein or Sam Webb of the Daily Mail read the study's that show cannabis is in no way toxic?

Rastafarian rats: Still not dead from cannabis.

Did Gemma Moss eat ten pounds of weed?  Of course she didn’t.   They found half a joint near her body, suggesting she didn’t even smoke a whole doobie before she went to bed.  She was trying to help herself sleep, according to friends, having recently broken up with her boyfriend.   For most of the people reading this the idea of smoking only half a joint without finishing it is not the norm; she must have had a low tolerance.

Dr Kudair Hussein, the pathologist who made the determination of death, actually presents no evidence whatsoever to support his claim.  He found no organ damage of any kind.  There was no obvious cause of death.  The presence of cannabis in her system was the only anomaly he had to work with, at least within the scope of the investigation he was willing to undertake, and so he blames cannabis.

It’s terrible science.  It’s basing a conclusion on an untested assumption which flies in the face of all available data on the subject.  Absolutely no study anywhere has demonstrated potential lethality from cannabis.  In fact, only two deaths have been recorded as the result of cannabis and somehow on a planet of seven billion people both of those people were in the UK.  This tells me that we are dealing more with an issue of culture than of science.  Pot isn’t too popular amongst many in Britain, the upper classes in particular, and so there are doctors willing to stake their reputation on such an audacious claim, secure in the knowledge that their colleges won’t call them on their bullshit.

Well I am doing it now.  Dr Kudair Hussein quite simply did not do his job properly here.  There is obviously some underlying cause for the untimely and peculiar death of Gemma Moss.  Perhaps there is an undiagnosed cardiac defect; perhaps she had a neurological condition.  There are a million different things that can just rub you out without warning, and generally those causes are so unlikely we don’t test for them.  On very rare occasions people just drop dead for no reason anyone can establish.

Did the good doctor test for every known toxin and pathogen?  Of course he didn’t.  That would have taken an enormous amount of time and resources that his bosses would never approve the expenses for.  I know we like to think that in the event of a mysterious death that the authorities will leave no stone unturned until they know the answer.  While that is the case in television detective shows, the fact is that these organizations have budgets to adhere to and Gemma Moss just isn’t so important they are going to break the bank to discover her cause of death.

This leaves Dr Kudair Hussein in a bad position.  He’s facing questioning at an inquest into this woman’s death and he has no good reason she died.  Some people don’t like to admit what they don’t know, and the medical profession is notorious for this particular brand of hubris.  Rather than admit ignorance and throw his hands in the air this pathologist decided to save face by blaming the only thing he could find that wasn’t completely ordinary and mundane about the autopsy of Gemma Moss.

Dr Kudair Hussein blamed the cannabis.  It demonstrated remarkable professional dishonesty.

This is where the Daily Mail gets extra stupid.  They published this article to illustrate what they frame as the very real danger presented by cannabis.  Are they being rational?  Not even close.  When 5000 people die in England and Wales alone every year from alcohol toxicity, screaming in support of prohibition on the basis of one nebulous death by cannabis is beyond hyperbole.  It’s the lowest form of hysterical trash reporting.  Worse than that, it is intentionally misleading propaganda.  The Daily Mail is entirely written with a hyper-conservative narrative in mind, and they plug in “facts” where required to fit that narrative.  All other information is discarded as “liberal bias”.

Absolutely nowhere in the piece does the article actually address the science involved.  The “reporter” in question didn’t investigate LD50, what that might be for cannabis, or even what exactly a drug overdose is.  In most cases a “drug overdose” is actually respiratory failure caused by nervous system depression.  That’s how you die during a heroin overdose; your lungs stop expanding because your diaphragm relaxes too much and you suffocate.  That can’t happen with cannabis according to all the best science available, and a decent professional journalist would have taken the time to find that out.

The Daily Mail is a dirty rag I wouldn’t wipe my ass with, to be more succinct.

Should we be concerned about this kind of story?  I say we shouldn’t.  I say that this is further evidence of the collapse of prohibition.  In the waning years of any defective policy the voices in support of that position become more outrageous and ridiculous with time.  They did it with the labor movement, and women’s suffrage, and with the civil rights movement.  Every one of those developments was going to be the end of the world according to those that opposed progress.  The world didn’t end; in fact it improved with each of those developments.

Prohibition is on the ropes and this latest flood of veritable satire is the best evidence of it.  The prohibitionists are punch drunk and desperate for a win, so they’re swinging haymakers blind and hoping to land one last blow before they go down in a heap of twitching muscles and spilling blood.  I say we all have a good chuckle and enjoy a sigh of satisfaction as that beast breathes its last fetid breath.

James Collins is a Canadian blogger, author and activist.

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  1. In view of the prevalent habit of mixing tobacco with cannabis in a “joint” it is relevant to note that the DM didn’t state whether tobacco was found in the half-joint Ms Moss hadn’t finished.

    “Moderate to heavy” cannabis use is code language for H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide joints which, even if no tobacco or other contaminant is present, yield heat shock, carbon monoxide and 4221 combustion toxins.

    A high percentage of Daily Mail articles concerning cannabis have in fact a picture of a joint at the top, and rarely do they show a vaporizer or a one-hitter.

    • If CO2 played a role in her death it would have been obvious. That leaves very clear traces, and the toxicology report didn’t show anything as far as they have revealed.

      They just don’t know why she died.

  2. OK, patient has Multiple Scleroses. Patient fell down flight of stairs, breaking neck. Yes, MS killed her, legs gave out and caused the fall. BS, broken neck did, MS is hardly fatal. Would the patient have fallen without MS? Yea, happens every day. Same with the best medicine for it, Cannabis. People fall on stairs with and without that too. Some deaths just need to be questioned before action is taken.

  3. Clarification: CO2 is dioxide, CO is monoxide. At issue is not whether the CO in one joint could cause death– almost impossible– but rather that a prolonged pattern of “heavy” smoking weakens the organism and death can occur through a combination of causes.

    Legalisation of cannabis can bring with it a legalisation of VAPES and one-hitters now widely banned as “paraphernalia”, a repudiation of “easy-to-hide” rolling papers, and a public health triumph which will win some pro-cannabis blogger a Knowitwell Prize.

    • You’re absolutely right, my mistake. At any rate, they make no mention of heavy smoking, smoking at all, or much of anything else. They even state that they found no evidence of her medication in her system, so that doesn’t seem to play in as a cause.

      There is just nothing in the available facts to link this to tobacco. The pathologist seems to have linked the death to cannabis for lack of a real explanation.

  4. I’m glad that you have responded to the article in the DM (dodgy morons). When I read it the first thought that came into my mind was that Dr. Hussein said he could find no obvious cause of death, and then contradicted himself by saying it was the cannabis. This is akin to seeing an UFO and then claiming it was aliens despite the fact it is UNIDENTIFIED.

    It doesn’t surprise one iota that the DM (dodgy morons) picked up on this story. They must’ve been in a quandary however as they had to agree with someone with a foreign sounding name.

  5. A quick check through http://www.mims.co.uk/ will show that one of side effects of non controled withdrawal from several psychiatric drugs is sudden death due to heart failure, all the doctor had to do was have a look at MIMS and check what she had been on, that’s a probable cause that I bet wasn’t investigated, it would be interesting to know if he has any involvement with any pharmacuticaal company?

    Perhaps a petition could be established somewhere to have him struck off/the inquest reopened or something like that, this certainly can’t be considered a safe inquest verdict 🙁

    • The report found no traces of her medication in her system. With most modern psychiatric drugs the half-life is weeks or months. There is no way her tests would run clean if she had recently taken them. It sounds like she was using cannabis instead of the drugs she was prescribed.

      • Check out a few common meds James, (I’m sure you know several), especially antidepressants, (more so SSRI’s), several of them warn against stopping taking them due to possible sudden death.

        Regarding the half life, even if she hadn’t taken her meds for a few days and they were out of her system by then, (which a short half life would ensure), it does not rule out heart failure caused by going cold turkey, not weaning off, that’s the main reason they advise against going cold turkey on most of them.

        I still suspect if we look deep enough this doc will have a pharmaceutical connection, it stinks of a cover up from the pharmaceutical industry…

        • I’m aware of the side-effects of common psychotheraputic drugs. The problem is that acute withdrawal symptoms, like heart failure, would occur within the first few weeks after sudden cessation. There was NO trace of her medication in her system. With SSRI drugs they should turn up in a blood screening for up to two or three months after she stopped taking them.

          It would suggest to me that she either wasn’t taking them at all, or stopped a long time previous to her death. It draws focus away from a possible medication problem to some undetected physical problem. She may have had bad electrical activity in her cardiac system, there wouldn’t be much to show for it post-mortem if it were not diagnosed previously. There is a whole range of potential causes of death which would not be explored in a standard autopsy.

          I’m saying we have no fingerprints here to put blame on tobacco, psychiatric drugs, or anything else for that matter. Any conclusion jumped to suffers the fatal flaw of a total absence of evidence. We just can’t assume what killed her, and anything we assume is just that, an assumption empty of real value.

  6. I think the cannabis community needs a ‘BURN THE DAILY MAIL DAY’ on which we go to our local newsagents buy all the copy’s of the daily mail and set them on fire in the street to show are disgust at this paper and it’s lies!

    • If you buy all their papers do you really think they care what you do with them? You would just increase sales for a propaganda peddler!

  7. Many years ago I used to work as a funerals manager. Now and again we’d do a funeral for someone who’d died without any explanation and although it wasn’t an everyday thing it happened. Some adults young and old die without any known cause. One guy I remember dropped dead after getting out of a swimming pool. Was swimming the cause of death? Following Dr Husseins logic it was. If I was a coroner I’d be seriously looking at the results of any post mortem examination carried out by this pathologist as he is clearly out of his depth.

  8. Don’t hate the Daily Mail or advocate any kind of harm to them. Persuade them that we are right – they are expecting a confrontation with dope smoking hippies so don’t give them one. Take their points on rationally and agree with their aspirations, aims and desires but show them persecuting cannabis and it’s users will not deliver these benefits for them.
    I think the legalisation movement needs to convert public opinion not start arguments with the more reactionary newspapers (left or right politics). Show them that some of the best and most valued people in our society enjoy this herb. This is what has happening in America and to some extent Canada at the moment.

    Be a good person don’t play the Daily Mail’s (booze addled) game of hatred.

    • “We just can’t assume WHAT killed her,” as James pointed out, so it might be time to ask HOW (how) killed her. A half-used “Joint” (giant) was found; we just don’t know if the first half was consumed in three puffs, two drags or just one 250-mg H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide Bogart. IT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE.

      Already in the l980’s it was reported that in a stiff “puff” on a 700-mg “conventional” (tobacco) $igarette, the $moker can raise the temperature in the burning tip to 1500F. Later I’ve seen 700C/1200F. Even with more tobacco and a filter to pass through kooling down, that’s less than 7 inches from your trachea. (The proper VAPING temperature for cannabis is 385F/197C.)

      Before assuming the following, just hypothesize: the lady had stopped taking anti-depressant meds because the whirlwind of social contact and maintenance with the kids and schools and parent groups seemed to be picking her up and maybe she wouldn’t need the meds any more.

      But then one day things took a turn for the worse on one or more fronts, something scared her worse than usual, Depression itself is a med that one can overdose on hurriedly trying to avoid some… Anxiety. So, maybe wanting to quickly “Forget” something, she hurriedly lit up a Joint (giant)and took one hell of a hit which hammered her enough to knock the heart off its tempo plus she Forgot how to breathe. Perfect storms can happen in an hour, in a minute, in seconds.

      Not the cannabis, the procedure of “use” might be the problem here. What if someone had persuaded her in time to get and learn how to use a Vaporizer? Or learn how to do a 25-mg smooth gentle single toke on an “almost as good as a Vaporizer and handmade from $2.00 worth of parts” Long-Drawtube One-Hitter? (Just hold the lighter down far enough below that air entering is 385F/197C.)

      Correspondingly, in the tobacco user population, not the tobacco, the $igarette format is the problem; inhalant users can switch to an e-cigarette (portable vaporizer), or use a one-hitter as follows:

      Insert a teensy piece (25 mg) torn off the tip of the $igarette in the screened crater of your single-toke utensil. “Suck slow; don’t glow till after 19 seconds or so.” A long flexible drawtube gives the vapors additional time to kool down before inhalation. (If that SUBSTITUTES for lighting an entire 700-mg you save money; saving money relieves Anxiety better than Depression.)

      For DIY one-hitter mfg instructions, search “Long-Drawtube One-Hitter”.

  9. Pingback: False media claims young mother dies of cannabis overdose | Hemp Party

  10. Pingback: Pathologist Dr Kudair Hussein incorrectly believes cannabis can kill - Marijuana Memes

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