Inside the Story of Colorado's First 'Legal Pot' Death

The teen had no other drug in his system when he jumped to his death
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2015 7:40 AM CDT
Inside the Story of Colorado's First Legal Pot Death
This 2010 photo shows a marijuana plant as it matures in a grow house in Denver.   (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

There's a saying in the health care world: dose matters. It certainly did in the case of 19-year-old Levy Thamba, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who was studying at Wyoming's Northwest College. While in Denver with friends on spring break in March of 2014, the teen jumped to his death from a Holiday Inn balcony after ingesting a whole lot of weed. In this week's Morbidity and Mortality report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review his death, the first "linked to marijuana consumption without evidence of polysubstance use" since pot became legal in the state in 2012. (The lemon poppyseed cookie was purchased legally by a 23-year-old friend; Thamba, however, wasn't of age and therefore didn't consume the pot legally.)

The police report stated he initially ate just the recommended single portion of the cookie; some 30-60 minutes later, still feeling no effects, Thamba—called "marijuana naive, with no known history of alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, or mental illness"—ate the whole cookie, constituting 6.5 servings. Roughly 2.5 hours later, Thamba exhibited "hostile behavior," according to his friends. He had no other drugs in his system at the time he jumped, and his death was ruled an accident. The legal blood limit for THC for drivers in the state is 5.0 ng/mL; his blood level was 49 ng/mL. LiveScience reports that regulations were put in place in February regarding the labeling of edible marijuana items; if they contain more than 10 mg of THC, each 10 mg serving must be clearly indicated. The cookie Thamba ate contained 65 mg. (Thamba's friends reportedly tried to calm him.)

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