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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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HiBarbRayAndMeg February 27 2014 at 5:26 PM

Meanwhile alcohol killed over 1000 people in the last 24 hours.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
Tom HiBarbRayAndMeg February 27 2014 at 5:51 PM

Proof please

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1 reply
debsully69 Tom February 27 2014 at 6:09 PM

Look it up yourself. Or are you afraid of the truth.

Flag +2 rate up
ED CANCEL February 27 2014 at 5:41 AM

I HAD A TRIPLE BY PASS THREE YEARS AGO AND STILL SMOKE DAILY, SO WHAT IS THIS BS?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
smokert5555 February 27 2014 at 5:56 AM

This article is only printed because it concerns people without knowledge making false claims. They mention 2 cases out of 15 they culled out of the records. Neither number is big enough statistically to say anything is going on let alone that weed caused these deaths.

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ehlewis February 27 2014 at 4:15 PM

Sounds like BS to me.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
cred4luv February 27 2014 at 6:50 AM

taking ANY type of smoke into your lungs is bad for you end of story.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
Tammy cred4luv February 27 2014 at 7:13 AM

Ummmm...have you ever heard of edibles or a vaporizer?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
narud8080 cred4luv February 27 2014 at 7:38 AM

bravo bravo bravo. this is the most obvious argument, that people completely overlook.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
chmdeeringconst February 27 2014 at 4:14 PM

2 whole cases huh... and because these people had problems already... tell me how many alcohol related death's have there been.. let's say in the last 6 months????? let's have that in your top stories, print it every 6 months..

Flag Reply +7 rate up
lillo7374 February 27 2014 at 4:13 PM

OMG are you F**ing kidding me...With tha condition smoking ANYTHING would have killed them. DAMN still NOTHING you bunch of idiots

Flag Reply +4 rate up
lakepointhoa February 27 2014 at 4:13 PM

Would they have died anyway if they did not smoke?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
amazing grace lakepointhoa February 27 2014 at 5:16 PM

Possibily, who knows. EVEN doctor prescribed meds have risks involved, so pot is no different. It is NOT for everyone. I know because I have smoked pot before but that was years ago and it was PURE, no additives. The pot being sold in Arizona has additives that MAYBE would not effect SOME people and OBVIOUSLY can effect others negatively.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
samwise246 February 27 2014 at 4:00 PM

"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."

So, how can we know for sure that the use of cannabis was the literal cause of death or just the unknown problems? In the case of the one with the past history of serious drug use, I would think that had more to do with it than the cannabis.?

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1 reply
williamwatsonsr samwise246 February 27 2014 at 4:07 PM

Stop being logical. Such posts have no placehere.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
jfusco316 February 27 2014 at 7:31 AM

Give me a break. Drug companies are going to do whatever they can to keep it from going mainstream. They have killed hundreds of people with their experimental drugs and then tell us how good a cure it is. Just listen to any drug commercial and check out the side effects.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
3 replies
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