Louisiana woman may be the first person to die from a THC overdose, claims coroner
Her autopsy showed no signs of any other disease or drugs except for THC. Experts, however, are still skeptical about the coroner's conclusions
A 39-year-old woman whose body was found in her apartment in LaPlace, Louisiana, in February may have died of an apparent THC overdose according to the coroner. According to a report by The New Orleans Advocate, St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner Christy Montegut told them that the woman had died of an excess of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in her system. The name of the woman and her identity have not been made public yet.
Montegut shared that "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."
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the main component of marijuana and occurs in a crystalline form. Montegut said that this could be "perhaps the first death on record solely as a result of THC exposure." Her toxicology report said she had THC to the tune of 8.4 nanograms per milliliter of blood but there are no such established standards which can say that this was an extremely high level. Bernard Le Foll, a professor and scientist at the University of Toronto, who has been studying addiction, said that for the dose to be lethal, the quantity of THC should be 100 to 1000 times more than what was found in the woman's body. Even the reports by The National Institute on Drug Abuse has never attributed an adult's death to the overdose of THC.
Montegut said that the THC came through some vaping device with highly concentrated THC oil. The coroner further said: “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." Keith Humphreys, a former senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, however, had a different opinion on the matter. He thinks if THC at this level was fatal then numerous more deaths would have been reported all across the country.
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 of thousand cannabis overdose deaths a year.” This is clearly not the reality and hence the coroner's report is facing sharp criticism due to his claims.