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Don’t Believe What You’re Hearing about the First Cannabis Overdose

This week, you may have been seeing several news outlets reporting that someone has died of a cannabis overdose for the first time in history. This is not correct. It’s a classic case of misreporting by several mainstream news outlets. Here is what really happened.

An eleven month old boy suffered a seizure and tragically passed away. A toxicology report revealed that there were small amounts of cannabis in his system. This is not however what caused the infant’s death. The actual cause of death, according to the doctors who examined him was myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart. “We are absolutely not saying that marijuana killed that child,” said Thomas Nappe, the author of the report and the director of medical toxicology at St. Luke’s  University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Nappe and Christopher Hoyte, who helped him write the initial report, simply indicated that there was a possible link to the boy’s myocarditis and the cannabis in his system. This is really all they said. Naturally, people read the report and it turned into “this boy died of a cannabis overdose”. It’s a lot like the classic children’s game telephone.

This is one of those cases where it’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. Just because there was cannabis in his system when he died does not mean that is what killed him. While there may end up being a link between cannabis and myocarditis, there needs to be more research on the subject before any definitive conclusions can be made. As of right now, still no one has died of a cannabis overdose.

You can read the full report here.

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