The wave of legalization over the last couple of years has brought more positive attention onto this plant since ever before, and that’s bound to come with some additional backlash. As many in the scientific and medical fields are finally getting the chance to study cannabis extensively and learn more about its therapeutic components, a band of detractors in Germany have stacked up some anecdotal evidence and are claiming that weed caused death. Specifically, the team based in Dusseldorf, Germany says that autopsies show the effect of increased heart rate and blood pressure caused by cannabis can lead to cardiac arrest. As stated in their report, “After exclusion of other causes of death we assume that the young men experienced fatal cardiovascular complications evoked by smoking cannabis.”
This method of finding a cause, known as diagnosis of exclusion, is resorted to “if presence cannot be established with complete confidence from examination or testing.” So, it’s with incomplete confidence that this research team made these allegations. The sensational conclusions in the report were timed pretty conveniently, coming out to challenge the medical benefits of cannabis that are currently being discovered and widely reported. Discovering the first deaths from cannabis use is a pretty good way to get press even if the claim is unsubstantiated. Perhaps that’s why lead researcher Benno Hartung had to do a little backpedalling when the head of Germany’s Association for Drugs and Addiction, Jost Leune said, “Cannabis does not paralyze the breathing or the heart. Deaths due to cannabis use are usually accidents that are not caused by the substance, but to the circumstances of use.”
Oooh! Someone got schooled by the grand master. Hartung responded in a letter to the Associated Press stating, "We assume that these are very rare, isolated cases." According to AP, Hartung also noted that it was hard to draw any wider conclusion about the number of deaths that might be caused by cannabis use. To his defense, science does seem really, really hard.
Though they are predictable, unsubstantiated claims about the purported dangers of cannabis tend to stick around the internet as truth, and there are some people who don’t bother double-checking before saying something untrue and irresponsible. Unfortunately for residents of Annapolis, Maryland, one of these impressionable knuckleheads is their Chief of Police. Testifying against a recreational legalization bill in the state, Chief Michael Pristoop cited as fact a hoax article from the Daily Currant that said 37 people in Colorado died from marijuana overdoses back in January. He was called out immediately on his egregious error, but he DID NOT BACK DOWN, saying, “If it was a misquote, then I’ll stand behind the mistake. But I’m holding on to information I was provided.” What a guy. He knows it’s bullshit, but rather than accept his own mistake, he’s going to side with the comprehensive reportage of the Daily Currant and his own lack of internet skills.
Is there any good news this week? Just the usual -- more unexpected states gradually moving towards medical, and more recognizing the tax benefit of recreational. Let’s be thankful that, in this time of progress, the bad news that’s emerging is being proven wrong. The research is happening, we’re learning more about it, and all signs are pointing to cannabis being the awesome substance that smokers have always known it to be.
Overall… We’re winning!!!