Doctors Raise Warning About Marijuana Lollipops

70-year-old man unfamiliar with THC doses has a heart attack
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2019 8:32 AM CST
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Marijuana buds ready for harvest.   (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(Newser) – Doctors see a cautionary tale about marijuana edibles in the case of a 70-year-old man in Canada. He ate an entire pot lollipop in the hope that it would ease his arthritis, reports Live Science. Instead, it brought on hallucinations so fearful that the man ended up having a non-fatal heart attack, the researchers report in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. The man had a history of heart trouble and was actually taking medication for it, but he had been stable for two years. The doctors' best guess is that the doomsday hallucinations caused him so much anxiety—he called a family member while having them to say he was dying—that it triggered the heart attack. The lollipop had a 90mg dose of THC, much stronger than a typical joint, and the man was unfamiliar with those numbers. He would have been better off taking a few licks, per the National Post.

"Marijuana can be a useful tool for many patients, especially for pain and nausea relief," but "like all other medications, it does carry risk and side effects," says one of the researchers in a press release. In this case, "inappropriate dosing" was the culprit, she adds. Researchers say someone smoking a joint typically ingests 7mg of THC. (A Los Angeles Times graphic has it at 12mg.) The case is important given the widespread legalization of marijuana because it shows the need for more research about health risks, particularly for those with heart trouble, say the researchers. While the heart attack seemed to be an indirect result of the THC—causing stress that in turn caused the heart attack—an accompanying editorial lays out ways the compound can pose more direct heart risks. (Columnist Maureen Dowd once learned first-hand about the risks of edibles.)

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