Gemma Moss was a typical 31-year-old British woman. She was a mother of three, and a regular churchgoer. Everyone who knew her said she was full of life and a great person to be around. Her death came as a shock to all who knew her. What is even more surprising is the way in which she died. According to local coroners, Moss’s death was caused by a Marijuana “poisoning” or overdose.
Those that knew Gemma Moss would say she was not an avid drug user. She had frequently smoked marijuana in her 20’s, but stopped using as her children grew up. Recently, her life had become more turbulent. She broke up with her long time boyfriend, and the anxiety caused by the event made her unable to sleep. She began using marijuana again in an effort to calm herself at night and help relieve her anxiety. Her mother, Kim Furness, knew of her daughter’s marijuana use. According to Furness, Moss would smoke a half a joint at night to help her sleep. When medical personnel reached Moss on the morning of her death, they found exactly that.
Moss was found one early October morning last year in her bed by her son’s girlfriend. The girlfriend called for an ambulance after Moss was completely non-responsive to her. Moss was pronounced dead on the scene. The paramedics found a half of a marijuana cigarette under her when they moved the body.
Sheriff Payne, the local coroner was the first to examine Moss. According to his report, no significant damage to the vital organs could be found as a cause of death. Puzzled, he called for a specialist. Dr. Kudair Hussein was the pathologist brought in to examine the body. He discovered a high level of cannabinoids in Moss’s bloodstream. These levels, according to Hussein, were equal to that of a heavy to moderate marijuana user. After finishing his examination, Hussein concluded that Moss’s death was caused by a marijuana overdose.
Payne this week released the official report concerning Moss’s death. She has become the first ever woman to die in the UK as a result of a marijuana overdose. Only one other person, a man in 2004, has been officially listed as having the same cause of death. David Raynes of the national drug prevention alliance has never seen a case where marijuana was the sole cause of death. Sure, there have been thousands of marijuana related deaths. None have been solely based on marijuana.
This recent report has caused sparks of controversy all over the United States. Doctors stateside agree that smoking marijuana can be the cause of death in some instances, but only if it is laced with a harder, more lethal drug. The lethal drug would then be the cause of the overdose, not the marijuana. Doctors also agree that the heightened heart rate from the anxiety of smoking marijuana can cause an underlying heart condition to have a deadly reaction. Again, however, it would be the condition and not the Marijuana that would be the cause of death.
The American Scientist, a very popular science and technology magazine, recently published an article concerning the toxicity of recreational drugs. They proved that alcohol is the most lethal of all commonly abused substances. A person would have to drink ten times the amount it takes to get “a little buzzed” in order to overdose. Marijuana users would have to ingest 1000 times the amount of marijuana it takes to feel “a little high” in order to overdose. Studies have shown that most users pass out long before this amount can be ingested.
Despite this information, Gemma Moss will officially go down in history as the first woman whose death was caused by a marijuana overdose. British citizens may very well believe this is true. Americans, on the other hand, will probably think Hussain is just blowing smoke.
By Chris Chisam