In a highly unusual move, the Denver coroner’s says that marijuana intoxication was the major contributing factor in Levy Thamba’s death by jumping from a hotel balcony last month because the college student had eaten a marijuana edible before the incident.
The coroner’s office says the facts of the case explain why the decision to include information about marijuana was made, though the facts leave a lot of unanswered questions.
What happened? Denver Office of the Medical Examiner spokeswoman Michelle Weiss-Samaras says that Thamba and at least one other person ate some pot food. Within a short time Weiss-Samaras says that “another kid got sick and [Thamba] had this happen.”
But that’s not the entire story. In fact, she is downplaying some of the most important parts of the report: namely that the kid was acting very “hostile” and “erratically” and jumped not fell from the fourth-floor balcony. Not exactly behavior that anyone associates with marijuana use.
According to the coroner’s office release, the “post-mortem chest cavity blood results (basic, synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts panels)” showed a Delta-9 THC (active THC) reading of 7.2 ng/mL and a Delta-9 Carboxy THC (inactive THC) of 49 ng/mL. Meaning, at the time of his death he had only 7.2 active nanograms of cannabis. Because Colorado lawmakers have set THC DUI limits at 5 nano grams per-mililiter, the coroner was able to make that determination — though it has been shown many times that such low levels of active THC may not cause any impairment whatsoever.
But without any other drugs or alcohol in his system, the coroner ruled marijuana as the main factor even though they admit that the reaction isn’t typical themselves. “That’s all we had,” Weiss-Samaras said. “He was fine, he was normal, he was an easy-going kid, and then he ate this cookie and went over the balcony. And this was not a kid who was suicidal.”
Sounds a lot like reefer madness to us, and we’re not alone.The coroner’s decision is being questioned by at least one Denver-area physician. Dr. Scott Bentz, an ER doctor at St. Luke’s medical center says Thamba’s behavior doesn’t sound like a reaction to marijuana.
“It’s not a typical toxidrome or a typical behavior related to ingesting marijuana or eating marijuana.”,” he told CBS news, “Marijuana in its inhaled or ingested forms don’t typical cause a loss of impulse control or erratic behavior.”
Dr. Scott Bentz said that the overreactions he’s seen to cannabis in his ER are totally different. “People are coming in very, very sedated or they are not breathing as well,” he said.
There has to be some major underlying factors here that would lead anyone — buzzed on weed or not — to willingly jump out of a window and think they would be okay. Marijuana alone can’t make anyone think they are invincible or cause them to momentarily forget the laws of gravity and physics.