29 Jan Bournemouth Death Due To Cannabis?

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At the end of November last year, the Dorset Echo reported the opening of an inquest after a woman was found unresponsive at her home in Walpole Road, Boscombe. The hearing was told that Gemma Moss, 31, died due to cannabis toxicity. The inquest was adjourned for a full hearing on 21st January 2014.

Today I received a phone call from a news agency indicating that the verdict was death due to cannabis toxicity and asking me for my comments. This is the information that I provided.

It is popularly believed that there has never been a death directly attributable to the use cannabis anywhere in the world – that is because of a toxic effect of cannabis on the body. Clearly, it is possible that somebody may have had an accident while intoxicated through cannabis use but that would be an indirect cause.

Indeed, the NHS publication ‘A summary of the health harms of drugs’ states: “No cases of fatal overdoses have been reported. No confirmed cases of human deaths”. Source: page 31, http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/healthharmsfinal-v1.pdf<

Science does support the principle that it is impossible to overdose on cannabis. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_cannabis#Toxicity

Cannabis is probably the least toxic therapeutically active substance known to man. Its Therapeutic Ratio (TR) is so high as to be virtually impossible to calculate but is believed to be between 1:20000 and 1:40000. Thus if 100mg of cannabis would produce an effect, between two to four kilos (taken at once) would be fatal. This amount is, of course, impossible to consume.

Therapeutic Ratio (TR) is the ratio of effective dose for 50% of users (ED50) to lethal dose for 50% of users (LD50). The TR of alcohol is 1:20. TR of heroin is 1:5.

Also, cannabis works on our body because it modulates the endocannabinoid system which consts of a network of CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body and endocannabinoids which are the body’s natural chemicals equivalent to the chemicals in the cannabis plant. The CB1 receptor is now believed to be the most prevalent receptor in the brain but does not exist in the brain stem which controls the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. This is why, unlike opiates, alcohol or other drugs, cannabis cannot depress basic life functions to the point of death.

Many doctors are unaware of the endcocannabinoid system because it was only discovered in 1988 and so has only recently been documented in medical education. It is now believed to be the most important physiological system in our body, regulating the central nervous system, immune, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and reproductive systems. This is why mankind has found cannabis such a safe and effective medicine for at least 5,000 years for such a wide variety of conditions.