Cannabis can kill?

Pic: Marijuana Majority (C)

Pic: Marijuana Majority (C)

“In war, truth is the first casualty.”

– Aeschylus

As the world watches America make moves to legalise cannabis, a worrying trend is emerging in the UK where the war on drugs continues. Earlier this year Disinfo brought you the surprising news that the UK Government owned National Health Service had recorded the drug as a cause of death. Now the Daily Mail has published another curious report claiming further fatalities.

The UK’s Daily Mail reports:

It is possible to die as a direct result of smoking cannabis, new research shows.

German scientists have identified two people who died purely as a result of smoking the drug.

It was previously known that using marijuana could be fatal if it was used in conjunction with other drugs – such as by triggering heart conditions or by causing cancer.


Now, scientists at the University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany have carried out the first full post mortem examinations on people who have died after using the drug.

The team, led by Dr Benno Hartung, carried out 15 examinations.

They performed tests including toxicology tests and genetic tests to rule out any other causes of death.

They discovered that the deaths of two of the patients could not be put down to anything other than marijuana use.

The Daily Mail’s source for the story is the respected New Scientist magazine which refers back to the unusual story of a cannabis death in the UK referred to earlier.

Without wearing your conspiracy theory hat the benefits of the UK’s drugs policy are unclear, it helps fund organised crime to the tune of billions each year. If you believe there is some sort of deal between criminals and Government these recent stories are a significant worry.

Nick Margerrison.

Nick Margerrison

I write on Disinfo for fun, I've been a fan of the company for years.

In the real world I'm a freelance TV/radio presenter. I've worked for LBC, Kerrang Radio, The Bay, Edge Media TV, Hallam FM and The BBC.

My podcast is here:

26 Comments on "Cannabis can kill?"

  1. Michael O'Flynn | Feb 26, 2014 at 3:39 pm |

    i think people die from too much caffeine also, breathing in too much water also – I think they should legalize it and sell it just like alcohol and it should be treated the same in the workplace and behind the wheel of a vehicle. That way organized crime would be eliminated or legitimized and there would be some type of safety control at the L&M Control Board

  2. Mick-Doscious | Feb 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm |

    Your chances of dying increase exponentially the second you open the door and go outside…EVERYONE STAY IN YOUR HOUSES TILL THEY COME KNOCK ON THE DOOR FOR YA!

  3. I think this boils down to “we couldn’t find the actual cause of death, so we’re blaming pot, even though we don’t have any causal evidence to explain how pot triggered the heart attacks”.

    The New Scientist story says as much:

    It is not clear how cannabis could trigger arrhythmias. There might be unknown channelopathies that increase the risk of cardiac conditions triggered by the drug, says Hartung.

    There are a whole host of things that are known to cause arrhythmia, including mental stress. So it is plausible there were other unidentified factors.

    I’m willing to believe it really was cannabis, and this is just one of those really rare kinds of risks you take with any substance that might cause an adverse reaction in some cases, but doesn’t pose a general risk.

    If pot was the only factor in 2,000, or 20,000 such cases, I’d be more concerned. Even if these two are finally proven to be caused by pot, I think the overwhelming experience of people smoking pot is not dying from it and its general safety will remain well established.

    • LevonRichardRickandGarth | Feb 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm |

      Except these would be the only cases reported EVER. Seems kinda timely the first one happens just after Obama says cannabis is not more harmful than alcohol.
      It is more likely based on the first statement about interactions with other drugs, that the other drugs were most likely the cause of death. People taking prescription medicine die all the time. Tylenol kills more than any drug every year in the USA.
      There are many studies from reputable organizations that have conducted decades long research on cannabis smokers and have found no detrimental effects other than the irritation caused by smoking a plant , causing burning smoke to go down your airway. It was found it also does not restrict the bronchial tubes like nicotine, in fact it is known as a bronchial dilator and was used as an asthma relief for a long time.
      There are studies which also show it inhibits the mutation of cells. In short there are many studies and none have found that it will cause death.
      This is the same smear campaign run by the US after Nixon declared his war on drugs, look like the UK is trying to stir up the fear again. Anyone remember Reefer Madness?

      • I had this poster on my wall for years, when it first moved out of my parents house, way back when.

  4. Jason Archdeacon | Feb 26, 2014 at 4:21 pm |


  5. Andy Dilks | Feb 26, 2014 at 5:06 pm |

    I spoke to a crime reporter in the UK a while back who informed me that the secret services approached a criminal gang in the 80s asking their boss if they “wanted in” on the impending influx of heroin into their city – heresay, rumour, impossible to corroborate… but when you understand how black ops/intelligence links to drug trafficking (see McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin etc) it’s hardly a stretch to imagine that very powerful people high up the chain have a vested interested in keeping drugs illicit. Just my 2 cents, anyway

  6. Gjallarbru | Feb 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm |

    Even if the findings were true in some way…. Guess what, drinking alone can kill you, and does it much more often than pot. This is absolute FUD of the worse kind. It is also very hypocritical to announce this in such a way, and yet leave booze available when it does much worse. Who believes this stupidity anyway? I don’t even smoke pot and I’m for legalizing it.

  7. AManCalledDa-da | Feb 26, 2014 at 6:39 pm |

    New Scientists isn’t THAT respected. They’re actually pretty sensationalistic to, you know, sell magazines.

  8. Yeah, but it’s from the DM, everyone who knows the paper realises that on a journalistic scale it’s only one rung up the ladder from the Weekly World News and it’s ilk.

  9. Bruteloop | Feb 26, 2014 at 7:43 pm |

    Before the whole booze/pot thing reaches terminal velocity yet again…this is from the Daily Mail. No one with smidgeon of sense takes the rag seriously.

  10. InfvoCuernos | Feb 26, 2014 at 9:12 pm |

    I have noticed that there are certain subjects that people will lie and lie big about. Marijuana is one of them. That Nancy Grace twat goes out on a limb every time she gets a chance talking about all the families she has seen destroyed by pot, and all of the domestic violence and other crime that is caused by it. This is nothing new. Who was that Nazi fuck that said if you tell a lie enough, the people will start to believe it? Old Nancy probably has a grudge against weed because the high school dealer probably embarrassed her at the big dance, or maybe her ex husband smokes it, or maybe she was a teenage prostitute for weed.

    • Adam's Shadow | Feb 27, 2014 at 1:27 am |

      That Nazi fuck would have been Hitler first, then Goebbels. This is an essential propaganda technique that was first publicly articulated by (surprise!) Machiavelli. All systems and people of power have used it for centuries; it is the first rule of politics:

      When in doubt, lie your fucking ass off, and the bigger the lie, the better.

      Of course, the end result of this is that with the rise of the Information Age and the democratization of knowledge, more and more people have taken the reflexive stance of doubting everything everyone says, especially if the person or entity supplying that information is an “expert,” an “elite,” or a representative of such.

      You probably are already aware of all of this, I just felt like going off on a tangent.

  11. Rhoid Rager | Feb 26, 2014 at 10:16 pm |

    More hopeful evidence to build case against scourge of the canabis. the pot corrupts human morals and leads the young woman astray.

    • Makes ’em wanna have sex with darkies. Can’t have the flower of white womanhood out there miscegenating all over the place.

      • Rhoid Rager | Feb 26, 2014 at 10:49 pm |

        yes, and studies proved cases of increased propensity to masturbate alone, along with delusions of fornication with the beasts.

        • Nice try but you could have spared those bytes from the indignity of being sent around the internet. Judging from the many irrelevant, incoherent and disjointed replies here, Rhoid Rager might have it right.Lilluputians for the Libertation of Big Thoughts, Big Feet, and Big Shoes are largely incapable of realising how crazy they appear to those who are not fellow believers. Is this really all ninnies can think about anymore? Unfortunately this article (and the responses) contain a lot
          of the same pathetic excesses and addled hocus-pocus you always hear about marijauna.

        • Surely, this scourge is an abomination unto The Lord, and must be stopped by whatever means necessary.

  12. Hoarfraust | Feb 27, 2014 at 4:25 am |

    “German scientists have identified two people who died purely as a result of smoking the drug”
    They died purely from the results of bad hearts. Coffee, sex, or Redbull would have killed them just as surely, but I don’t see a war of propaganda against those.

  13. Damien Quinn | Feb 27, 2014 at 8:44 am |

    I’ve smoked/eaten Cannabis for almost twenty years, and I plan to continue as long as I’m able, but that doesn’t blind me to the fact that any substance which is altering the chemistry of my brain to that extent also has the potential to alter the chemistry of the systems in the rest of my body.

    They don’t know how it might kill you but that’s only because nobodies worked it out yet.

    In any case, it should be irrelevant. Arguing that cannabis should be legal because it is “less harmful than alcohol” tacitly accepts the premise that we are not the ultimate arbiters of our own body and consciousness.

  14. Big red flag for me here: one of the autopies showed a “remarkable hypertrophy of the cardiac muscle”. This is a significant indicator of a heart problem, which cannot be caused accutely. Of course this could be a risk factor and cause for avoidance of accute ingestion of pot, but unless the hypertrophy was linked to a long term usage the conclusions are somethingsomething…

    • Calypso_1 | Feb 27, 2014 at 3:22 pm |

      Don’t know what they found and you are right regarding general cardiovascular conditions, but there can be acute hypertrophy related to inflammatory response and edema. Particularly in cases of infarction related to smoke inhalation induced blood gas alterations.

      • Yeah i posted that, and read on, and realized your point when I read that the heart walls were not thickened. Considered removing the comment but left it on. anyways.
        There are a lot of assumptions made in these case studies though.

        • Calypso_1 | Feb 27, 2014 at 3:53 pm |

          Think they are barking up the wrong tree.
          Considering that 4000 out of the 5000 asthma deaths in the US are suspected to be cause by inhalers….
          We could always go back to the earlier inhalant cure for asthma – Datura.

  15. Rey d'Tutto | Mar 1, 2014 at 3:47 am |

    with an LD50 estimated @ 1270mg/kg, a 220 lbs (100 kg) person would need to ingest 279.4 lbs (127 kg) cannabis to have a 50%-50% chance of dying.
    Most folks smoke a bowl or two (less than a gram) & pass out if they smoke much more. I know of one fellow who smoked 2 oz. in an 8 hour period (a bet. he had help at the end, but he did it!), and he was unconscious for 2-3 days after.
    Damn propaganda.

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