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German Study Pins Deaths of Two Men on Pot-Related Complications

Two otherwise healthy German men reportedly died from medical complications after smoking weed.

"To our knowledge, these are the first cases of suspected fatal cannabis intoxications where full post-mortem investigations (...) were carried out," researchers wrote in an article about the bizarre case published in Forensic Science International.

The men, ages 23 and 28, probably had underlying health conditions. An autopsy showed that the younger man had a serious heart problem that had not been detected, while the older man had a history of alcohol and drug abuse. The men may have lost their heartbeat while lying down due to cannabis’ effect of increasing the user’s heart rate or blood pressure.

“We assume that these are very rare, isolated cases," Dr. Benno Hartung, one of the study’s authors, said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

He advised against drawing wider conclusions about the potentially fatal effects of marijuana.

Jost Leune, head of German Association for Drugs and Addiction, criticized the study in the English-language German news source The Local.

“Cannabis does not paralyze the breathing or the heart,” said Leune. “Deaths due to cannabis use are usually accidents that are not caused by the substance, but to the circumstances of use.”

Sources: The Associated Press, The Local


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