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German study finds cannabis use triggered 2 deaths

BERLIN (AP) - Cannabis use likely triggered fatal complications that led to the deaths of two men with underlying health conditions, according to scientists in Germany.

The findings are noteworthy because cannabis isn't normally associated with acute physical problems, let alone death.

The researchers, based at Duesseldorf and Frankfurt's university hospitals, said these were isolated cases but suggested people who might have serious heart problems should be made aware of the risk of cannabis use.

Their study was published online this month in the journal Forensic Science International.

The cases involved two outwardly healthy young men, aged 23 and 28, who died unexpectedly after smoking cannabis.

"To our knowledge, these are the first cases of suspected fatal cannabis intoxications where full post-mortem investigations (...) were carried out," the researchers said.

Autopsies showed that the younger man had a serious undetected heart problem and the older one had a history of alcohol, amphetamine and cocaine abuse.

These underlying conditions, combined with cannabis's known effect of increasing a user's heart rate or blood pressure when lying down, may have caused the men's hearts to lose their rhythm.

Dr. Benno Hartung, one of the study's authors, said the cases were among 15 deaths the scientists reviewed between 2011 and 2012. In 13 of them, other factors likely were to blame.

"We assume that these are very rare, isolated cases," Hartung said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday, noting that it was hard to draw any wider conclusion about the number of deaths that might be caused by cannabis use.

Still, the researchers concluded that while cannabis isn't particularly toxic and its effects are short lived, people who are at high risk for cardiovascular diseases should avoid the drug.

Dr. David Nutt, who is chairman of Britain's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs and wasn't involved in the study, said the researchers had presented an "exceptionally complete collection of evidence in support of their theory that, unusually, cannabis was the trigger for these two tragedies."

"People with vulnerable hearts should be informed of this risk with cannabis," he said.

Nutt added that alcohol and tobacco use are responsible for a large share of premature deaths in Europe each year. An additional strain to the heart during strenuous activities can have similarly fatal consequences in people with underlying conditions, he said.

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CaptainRoadKill February 28 2014 at 3:01 AM

HA!!! I bet that was one hell of a hang over!!!

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cybre February 28 2014 at 12:27 AM

How many people have died from alcohol use?????

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peckvet55 February 28 2014 at 12:40 AM

I'm not a pot smoker but I don't believe this.

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flynnsal February 28 2014 at 12:36 AM

Two deaths from cannabis, ridiculous. One death from heart disease, and one death from alcohol, amphetamine, and cocaine abuse.

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2 replies
laparkuh411 flynnsal February 28 2014 at 12:41 AM

Exactly. From the way the article describes them, these two men could have died from a strong cup of coffee. To "blame" pot is a bit silly, and a stretch at best.

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Jerry flynnsal February 28 2014 at 1:26 AM

Yeah, but cannabis was the trigger.

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darkdaved February 27 2014 at 9:27 PM

One had a bad heart, the other was a meth addict and an alcoholic, and they blame it on weed?
Wow, you writers will stretch anything for a story, won't you? This article is retarded and not worth the pixels wasted on it.

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1 reply
darkdaved darkdaved February 27 2014 at 9:36 PM

Also, pot widens the blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow through them. this is why your eyes get red. It is NOT bad for people with blood pressure problems because high blood pressure puts pressure on restricted blood vessels. Pot relaxes them meaning there is more room for blood flow meaning your high blood pressure will drop. It will, for a short time, increase your heart rate as it has to work a little harder with more room in your veins, but it won't throw it off the rhythm of the heart. Not unless you are high on meth and trying to use it to steady your heart rate. But then it's still not pot's fault, it's the meth's fault. Your journalism is sloppy. you won't climb to the top of anything with garbage flash like this. Go work for The Onion where the work you put out will be known for the joke it is.

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boodiemama February 27 2014 at 9:54 PM

well, i'm 70 years old with severe heart failure. i say.............time to roll another one!

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2 replies
aoversier boodiemama February 27 2014 at 10:11 PM

I'm sure smoking dope will help you.............doper

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1 reply
laparkuh411 aoversier February 28 2014 at 12:43 AM

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. You really aren't making non-smokers seem intelligent with posts like yours....

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Anne boodiemama February 27 2014 at 10:49 PM

Good for you - enjoy! I'm 83, and can hardly wait for the legal pot stores to start selling - happy day. Don't let the naysayers get to you, they obviously don't know what they're talking about.

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1 reply
saltlife336 Anne February 27 2014 at 11:20 PM

Right on Anne!

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moonbeam410 February 27 2014 at 11:01 PM

As well how can one say outwardly healthy young men when they had underlying heart conditions and a history of drug abuse.... DUHHHHHH

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sept2749 February 28 2014 at 7:58 AM

Heart condition and poly drug abuse huh? and you think the pot killed them. Whoever ran this study is a moron. Furthermore it is irresponsible to print the results of a study that does not show the number of people in the study OR were there just 2. That is not a study it is anecdotal crap that proves nothing at all.

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straight2spam February 28 2014 at 2:49 AM

I`ve remember way back in the seventies,when we use to smoke a thin joint was very strong and clean,yes like panama red,mexican gold weed,jamaican brown good stuff.Now in these day no such thing.

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1 reply
swimminsid straight2spam February 28 2014 at 3:02 AM

really because science clearly states otherwise since our genetic manipulation has created strains three times the strength of anything in existence pre 90's.....you're getting piss weed bro

Flag Reply 0 rate up
tsafa February 27 2014 at 10:40 PM

More people have died from using Aspirin or Sleeping Pills.... wooppy.

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