Marijuana causes death?

A family in New Jersey has recently stated that marijuana use claimed the life of their 22-year old son. My sincerest prayers of healing and light go out to the grieving family. The death of a loved one is never an easy experience to comprehend, much less get over.

I found the DailyMail’s article compelling and fascinating. It never ceases to amaze me how today’s journalism gets by using broad, biased generalizations, and non-fact checked disinformation as headlines.

For starters, the article states that the young man died of heart arrhythmia (aka an abnormal heartbeat). A medical examination discovered “traces” of THC in the deceased’s bloodstream. Curious as to what may cause arrhythmia, I did a quick internet search.


Apparently, there are MANY causes of an abnormal heartbeat. In some cases, a genetic predisposition may lead one to have this condition. Even something as seemingly harmless as OTC medications, nutritional supplements (vague), too much alcohol or caffeine (Starbucks is potentially a murderous corporation?), and stress can contribute to heart arrhythmia. Just based on all these potential causes, why would the family single out marijuana as the primary culprit?

The DailyMail’s article noted research conducted by Georgia State University (I have included the link to the study as the DailyMail article failed to do so- top notch journalism at it’s finest…). As an inquisitive Masters student, I find several issues with this study. The study concluded that “use of marijuana increases risk of metabolic syndrome.” Okay, sounds scary, right? Well, what exactly is metabolic syndrome? According to GSU’s researchers, metabolic syndrome is “a cluster of symptoms that increase a person’s risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.” Okay… So what would those cluster of symptoms be exactly? Further stated in the study, “criteria for diagnosing metabolic syndrome are not settled.” SERIOUSLY. *insert eye roll here. The researchers went on to conclude, “Irrespective of the criteria for metabolic syndrome, each year of marijuana use showed increased odds of having metabolic syndrome,” the researchers said. So a published university medical study is making bold conclusions “irrespective” of medical consensus over what truly constitutes metabolic syndrome? Comes across as careless, dangerous, and scientifically unsound to me…

As I am not a medical doctor, I will not assert that this young man did not have heart issued caused by marijuana use. However, as the young man’s mother and father are not medical professionals, their claims that weed caused his death are futile. If there is one thing I know is that, “correlation does not equal causation!” For example, a morbidly obese person may pass away from a heart attack or a stroke while enjoying his fried chicken dinner. To make come to a bold conclusion that fried chicken kills people is completely inaccurate and doesn’t take into account a person’s entire medical history or poor eating habits.

My favorite part of this investigatory piece (if one would be so moved as to call it), is

“..the medical examiner who looked at Michael is not convinced that marijuana is what caused his heart arrhythmia since there is still a lack of evidence about the drug’s side effects.”

Wow. Imagine that. A trained medical examiner, doing his/her job stating for the record that marijuana did not contribute to this poor man’s untimely death. If only writers for the DailyMail displayed similar professionalism and wrote factual, informative news stories rather than sensationalized opinion pieces. I say this in earnest as this article was presented under the website’s “Health” section.

There is no wonder why the negative stigma still surrounds cannabis. Misinformation is being circulated as reputable news, and innocent readers are taking the bait. In future, we should do ourselves a favor and do the research ourselves. Let’s not jump to conclusions because of flashy headlines.