(TMU) — In what would be the first case of its kind, a Louisiana woman allegedly died from a THC overdose after vaping a large amount of cannabis oil.
The New Orleans Advocate reports that the otherwise healthy 39-year-old collapsed and died in her La Place apartment in February due to high levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, according to St. John Baptist Parish Coroner Christy Montegut. The woman had healthy organs and no symptoms of illness or elevated traces of alcohol and drugs in her body.
The coroner told the Advocate:
“It looked like it was all THC because her autopsy showed no physical disease or afflictions that were the cause of death.
There was nothing else identified in the toxicology—no other drugs, no alcohol.
I’m thinking this lady must have vaped this THC oil and got a high level in her system and (it) made her stop breathing, like a respiratory failure.”
The woman’s boyfriend informed investigators that she used a marijuana vaping pen to imbibe of THC, and had been to the hospital three weeks prior to her death for a chest infection. The level of THC in her blood was 15 times the detection threshold for the compound, which led the coroner to conclude that her death was the result of a THC overdose.
While THC can cause heart palpitations and extreme anxiety in some users, the federally-funded National Institute on Drug Abuse has said that no recorded deaths have been attributable to marijuana overdose.
Various experts have also cast doubt on the coroner’s claims, describing his conclusion as highly unlikely.
Keith Humphreys, a former senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, noted that if such overdoses were possible, the growing amounts of cannabis consumption in the U.S. would have likewise risen. Humphreys said:
“We know from really good survey data that Americans use cannabis products billions of times a year, collectively. Not millions of times, but billions of times a year.
So, that means that if the risk of death was one in a million, we would have a couple thousand cannabis overdose deaths every year.
There’s always some imperfection in these kinds of assessments.”
According to an official from the state Department of Health, this is the first death attributable to THC alone, with other recorded deaths mentioning THC being in reference to combinations with other drugs.
According to past estimates, a person would have to smoke over 20,000 joints to reach potentially lethal level of THC toxicity, the paper reports.
The coroner, however, claims that the woman’s death should give legislators pause when considering lifting the prohibition on recreational marijuana. Cannabis is still not yet legal in Louisiana for medical use. Montegut argued:
“If you’ve got a 30-day supply of THC in there with an inhaler, you can just keep puffing away.”
But for the former White House senior policy adviser, the woman’s death may well have been just a fluke. Dismissing any need for concern, he explained:
“Let’s assume [that the woman died from THC] is a fact. What do you conclude from that? It doesn’t justify really anything from a policy viewpoint. It’s just so incredibly unlikely.”
Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.
Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.
Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.
Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.
Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.
“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”
However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.
In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”
“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”
Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say
With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.
According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.
The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.
While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.
Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.
“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.
Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced
However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.
Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact
Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.
And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.
Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.
Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.
Death Toll, by Percent of Population
In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.
Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.
The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.
Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.
History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning
While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.
In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.
What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?
Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics
Republished from ZH with permission.