Two Colorado doctors claim they have documented the first case of a cannabis overdose.
The doctors, Drs. Thomas Nappe and Christopher Hoyte, published their findings in the medical journal Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine. According to Dr. Nappe and Hoyte, an 11-month-old boy was the first person to die of from a marijuana overdose.
The study reports that the infant, who died in 2015, was rushed to the emergency room after having a seizure. The boy’s guardian told doctors that the child had been retching, was “irritable” and lethargic in the days leading up to his hospitalization. KSUA reports that a team of doctors, including both Hoyte and Nappe, examined the boy but found he was otherwise healthy. The unidentified child became unresponsive in the hospital and was given a breathing tube as his condition worsened. Doctors said the boy’s heart stopped and, despite efforts to resuscitate, the child died.
“The only thing that we found was marijuana. High concentrations of marijuana in his blood. And that’s the only thing we found,” Hoyte said. “The kid never really got better. And just one thing led to another and the kid ended up with a heart stopped. And the kid stopped breathing and died.”
The case report makes what amounts to a very bold statement in the scientific world, “As of this writing, this is the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis exposure.”
If correct, the phenomenon Dr. Hoyte claims to have documented would remain the only time a marijuana overdose is known to have caused a human death.
However, despite Hoyte and Nappe’s findings, other doctors are reportedly skeptical of the “strong language” used in the report.
“That statement is too much. It’s too much as far as I’m concerned,” said Dr. Noah Kaufman, an emergency medicine specialist based in Northern Colorado. “Because that is saying confidently that this is the first case. ‘We’ve got one!’ And I still disagree with that.”
Following the child’s death, doctors found tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the child’s blood and urine. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.