The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new warning about the risks of edible marijuana in the aftermath of Levy Thamba, who ended his life tragically after consuming a marijuana cookie. While hanging with friends during spring break, the college student leaped from the fourth-floor balcony of a Denver Holiday Inn, according to law enforcement. Thamba’s death was ruled an accident after coroners listed “marijuana intoxication” from cannabis-infused cookies as a significant contributing factor.
Recreational cannabis is legal in Colorado, the District of Columbia, Alaska, Washington State and Oregon. The CDC has issued a strict warning for these states mandating that wrappings contain dosage guidelines, more education, and clearer labels. The concern is not just for people who eat pot-laced substances, but for underage users who are drawn to such snacks but do not know they contain marijuana.
After consuming the cannabis cookie, the 19-year-old began to demonstrate erratic behavior. According to the CDC, the young man was advised not to eat the entire cookie at one time, but within 30-60 minutes had consumed all servings of the marijuana-laced cookie. The police report stated that initially the young man followed instructions by eating a piece of the cookie. However, after feeling no effects from the cannabis within the suggested timeframe, Thamba ate the rest of the cookie. Reportedly, within a couple of hours the teen began displaying hostile behavior and erratic speech and shortly thereafter, about three hours after his initial intake of the cannabis-infused cookie, he was dead.
When purchasing the cookie, Thamba’s friend was advised that only one-sixth of the pot-infused cookie should be consumed at a time. This equals 10 mg, which is the recommended intake of THC in one setting. His friend purchased the cookie for him, but the report did not clarify whether or not the teen was present at the time of sale. Workers advised the “friend” that 30 minutes could pass before any effects were realized, but after a half hour Thamba did not feel any differently and ate the remaining portion of the cookie, which totaled 65 mg of the psychoactive ingredient THC. According to researchers:
Because of the delayed effects of THC-infused edibles, multiple servings might be consumed in close succession before experiencing the ‘high’ from the initial serving, as reportedly occurred in this case.
Colorado was the first state to finalize and adopt rules for recreational cannabis. According to the CDC, nearly 45 percent of Colorado’s marijuana sales involve edible marijuana, including drinks and food products. In February 2015, Colorado sanctioned new guidelines for edibles containing marijuana. Cannabis-laced products must have separate labels which are clearly marked, containing 10 mg of THC or less, or reveal clearly identifiable divisions which outline a portion containing 10 mg.
A recent study found that marijuana products tend to have wildly inaccurate labeling for potency. Researchers went to several dispensaries with a medical marijuana prescription and $400. The mission of the volunteers was to buy edible cannabis products from candy and drinks to baked goods. Once they obtained the “merchandise” researchers tested the levels of CBD and THC and measured results against the correlating product labels. Only a few of the products displayed accurate amounts of the active ingredient in marijuana.
The CDC is now reinforcing accurate labeling and warning people to educate themselves on the risks associated with edible cannabis products. After 19-year-old Levy Thamba, an exchange student from the Republic of Congo, died as a result of marijuana intoxication from cannabis-infused cookies the CDC is hoping suppliers and consumers will take the warning seriously and govern future transactions accordingly.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Washington Post: The terrifying timeline of how a Colorado teen ate a pot cookie and then jumped to his death
Washington Post: Many marijuana products have wildly inaccurate labeling for potency, study says
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: National Briefs: CDC releases details in pot cookie death
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