Pot Cookie Blamed for Death of 19-Year OldBy: Mike Tuttle - April 2, 2014
Although not a single person has ever died from a marijuana overdose, the drug is being blamed for the death of a 19-year old college student.
Levi Thamba Pongi, a native of the Republic of Congo, was visiting Denver on spring break with his friends, one of which legally purchased a marijuana cookie in one of Colorado’s recreational pot shops.
After eating the cookie, Pongi “exhibited hostile behavior,” pulling things off of the hotel walls and speaking erratically before going outside and jumping off of the balcony.
The marijuana concentration in Pongi’s blood was 7.2 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Colorado law says that a user is impaired if their blood contains more than 5 nanograms per milliliter.
Colorado law also bans the sale of recreational marijuana to those under the age of 21. However, one of Pongi’s friends was old enough to purchase the cookie. No word as to if the friend will face charges.
Pongi’s body was tested for over 200 substances, but his blood only tested positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“This was not a suicide, and he was not a regular drug user,” said Michelle Weiss-Samaras, a spokesperson for the Denver coroner’s office.
The Denver Police are still investigating the death, which they are calling an accident, but the autopsy lists the cause as “multiple injuries due to a fall from height” and says that “marijuana intoxication is a significant contributing factor.”
Though scientific studies have not been able to prove that marijuana use leads to violent behavior and suicidal thoughts, some groups still continue to fight the war against it, despite the fact that research has suggested that THC has therapeutic value to patients suffering from AIDS and cancer.
However, while marijuana-related death remains extremely low (13 of the 15 related to other factors, and the remaining 2 related to pre-existing health problems) the total number of alcohol-induced deaths exceeded 25,000 in 2010.
Pongi, an exchange student, was studying engineering at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.
Northwest said in a statement, “The Northwest College campus community continues to grieve after Levy’s death. All of us were deeply saddened by this tragic incident and feel for his family.”
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