Thursday, February 27, 2014

Death By Marijuana

It's comforting to know the role of keeping the streets of America safe are in good hands. Although he apologized the next day,

"The first day of legalization, that's when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana," said Annapolis, Md., police chief Michael Pristoop while testifying against legislation to decriminalize cannabis in Maryland, according to the Capital Gazette. "I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths."

Pristoop was quickly corrected by state Sen. Jamie Raskin, the Gazette notes, who pointed out that the statistic was from the satirical newspaper The Daily Currant. "If it was a misquote, then I'll stand behind the mistake," Pristoop said. "But I'm holding on to information I was provided."

Raskin told The Huffington Post everyone in the chamber dropped their notebooks when Pristoop brought up the argument.

"It makes sense this would be the first article to leap to his attention, because there's no data out there to support his position," he said. "This is marijuana prohibition's last stand, citing a hoax article from the Internet."

Appropriately incredulous, Digby responds

But how could a police chief think such a thing is possible? 

Obviously, the man is completely out of touch if he was willing to believe that pot could kill people at all. He's downright stupid if he thought that it was reasonable that it killed 37 people in one day. The day it became legal.

Wrong! Pot can kill!  The proof is

A coroner in Great Britain ruled that a British woman died from a marijuana overdose, The Telegraph reported Thursday...

Gemma Moss, a mother of three, was found dead in her Bournemouth, England home on Oct. 29, 2012. There was half a joint under Moss' body, along with a wrapper containing pot leaves in her bag, The Telegraph reported. 

But Hussein did say Moss' blood had high levels of cannabis, a class B drug in Great Britain.

"The level of cannabinoids in the blood were 0.1 to 0.15 milligrams per liter, this is considered as moderate to heavy cannabis use," Hussein said, The Telegraph reported.

With these facts at hand the coroner, Sheriff Payne, concluded that pot was to blame.

"The post mortem could find no natural cause for her death. With the balance of probability that it is more likely than not that she died from the effects of cannabis," Payne said according to The Telegraph. 

Moss became the first British woman to die from marijuana.  Or not, because

... several medical officials dismiss the coroner's ruling as unlikely.

"In 40 years I have never come across deaths from cannabis alone," said David Raynes, from the National Drug Prevention Alliance, The Telegraph reported. "There have been cases where it has been combined with other drugs or alcohol."

Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told the New York Daily News that medical research proves death from marijuana is impossible.

"You would need to literally consume a third of your body weight in marijuana," Tvert said. 

Maybe these guys are wrong and England finally has a death from marijuana.  Back in the USA, as noted in a recent editorial in the Detroit News

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 there were 38,329 fatal drug overdoses in the United States.

That’s about 100 deaths per day, and more than double the number of fatal overdoses suffered in 1999.

Of those, 3,094 people died from heroin overdoses.

But more shockingly, 60 percent of those deaths — or 22,134 — were due to abuse of pharmaceutical drugs. And of those, 75 percent of deaths were due to an overdose of prescription opioid painkillers.

Preceding these deaths has been a drastic rise in consumption. The CDC says sales of prescription painkillers per capita has quadrupled since 1999, with enough prescription drugs prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult continually for a month.

In parts of Michigan, the prescription drug overdose death rate was eight and a half times higher in 2010 than in 1999, according to state data.

As prescriptions for painkillers rise, so does heroin abuse – and death from both.

One explanation is that highs from drugs like Vidocin and OxyContin — common prescription painkillers — are quite similar to the high one gets from heroin.

But heroin has become very cheap and very accessible, almost more so than prescription drugs. So when a user can’t get the prescription drugs, they jump back to heroin, and vice versa.

While the nation focuses on ways to prevent overdoses, and the emotional foundations of drug use, these statistics raise bigger questions about how America treats and legislates drug use.

Alcohol is a drug and is legal, yet there are almost 90,000 deaths per year in the country due to excessive use. Prescription medications – as noted above – are in the same boat.

So marijuana isn't the gateway drug anymore.  Now it's heroin or prescription drugs.

The editorial writers note "As the federal government continues to outlaw and criminalize non-lethal drugs such as marijuana, it simultaneously encourages the use and abuse of highly addictive, legal — and very lethal — prescription painkillers" (map from Centers for Disease Control).  That may be why President Obama's drug czar wants to keep marijuana illegal and end the drug war, which makes a lot of sense when the facts are ignored.

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