Can Marijuana Kill You? German Scientists Say Yes


The question of whether marijuana, or cannabis, can kill a person is continuously debated. German scientists have now added to the conversation.

Benno Hartung of University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany conducted post-mortems on 15 people whose deaths were linked to cannabis use.

They worked to rule out, if possible, other factors of deaths through numerous tests including an autopsy, a toxicology exam, genetic tests and histological analysis of all organs. “It’s a diagnosis of exclusion so you have to rule out all other possibilities,” Hartung told New Scientist.

Two of the 15 deaths were attributed to cannabis intoxication because no other causes were death.

The two deaths were both men–23 and 28 years of age–who died of cardiac arrhythmia, when the heart beats too quickly or slowly, and the scientists believe that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, triggered this.

Neither man had a history of problems that would have led to the arrhythmia. “We did every test we could,” Hartung said.

The younger man collapsed on a bus and marijuana was discovered in his pocket, reported BILD. The older man was discovered dead at the apartment of his girlfriend, next to a plastic bag of marijuana. Both men had THC in the blood. “It is clear that they have smoked cannabis just before her death,” Hartung said.

They published the research in Forensic Science International.

“To our knowledge, these are the first cases of suspected fatal cannabis intoxications where full postmortem investigations, including autopsy, toxicological, histological, immunohistochemical and genetical examinations, were carried out,” the scientists wrote in the study abstract. “The results of these examinations are presented. After exclusion of other causes of death we assume that the young men experienced fatal cardiovascular complications evoked by smoking cannabis”

Cannabis is increasingly viewed as a medicinal choice that helps alleviate pain or a way to relax as a recreational drug, particularly with recent legalization in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington.

Studies have indicated positive effects of the drug, but Hartung says the new research should prompt others to conduct investigations into death linked to cannabis use.

“Even though it may be rare, I hope others investigate death by cannabis intoxication in other cities, particularly in light of the increased use of cannabis for pain relief,” he said.



  • claygooding

    My only question would be how these researchers knew the victim’s histories so well that they could rule out any other cause,,medical records are not complete evidence of a persons heart condition in their early 20′s >30′s as discovery would have to come on a chance medical check-up while the problem was occurring or the patient complained with symptoms.,,many people die of heart attack without any mention in their medical records of heart issues.

  • Futurefilm Effects

    Germany is thinking about the legalization of Cannabis. Everybody want it. The media want to scare people that Cannabis is dangerous but nobody trust them in our country.

    Germany, go for it! Legalize it!
    Deutschland sollte es endlich Legalisieren.

  • Ben

    ridiculous. media campaign against cannabis. so obvious. especially the German crap tabloids “BILD” and “WELT” covered the story with utmost glee.

  • Brion Eduardo

    “…we ASSUME that the young men experienced fatal cardiovascular complications evoked by smoking cannabis” (emphasis added)

    Assumption is a poor substitute for using the scientific method to develop a cause and effect
    correlation. Benno Hartung is a quack, not a scientist.

  • rg9rts

    I’ll bet its easier to find victims of schnapps

    • TapestryMood

      Yep;-)
      Have a good morning..xoxo

      • rg9rts

        How we doing sweetie?? Had to escapee, don’t need more drama

        • TapestryMood

          I know..I saw..I am upfront..
          I am heading for bed ..again..but wanted to say, hi;-)

          • rg9rts

            Another message that never hit the notification board. Got this one on my mail.

    • HessenBalkan

      100%!! Every winter frozen in some ditch, drinking too much.

      • rg9rts

        No no no Not drinking enough..Then they wouldn’t have gotten frozen

        • HessenBalkan

          That would be called conserved? :-)

          • rg9rts

            Either way they are toast.~~~(^.,.^)

          • HessenBalkan

            lol yes I would say so

          • Toastman

            Huh? ;-)

  • Immortal Illumined

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    only the UK is a bigger prohibitionist then Germany

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, and 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…

    love and freedom forever

    AMERICA’S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!33

  • HeyJude

    Pretty sloppy science and conclusions. Much more likely to assume that these people had some underlying issues with their hearts to begin with, and they just happened to be pot smokers. A pain pill, alcohol or diuretic could just as easily have triggered an arrhythmia. Too much water can kill you, and some people die taking aspirin. The overreaching conclusion that smoking pot could kill people generally is silly.

    • HessenBalkan

      Totally agreeing with you.

  • HessenBalkan

    Don’t believe anything you read in the “Bild”. We have a saying “Bild spoke first with the deceased”.

  • Pony

    There are more people who die from adverse effects of Tylenol daily than this tiny study that reached the conclusion that THC was in their blood therefore pot killed them.

  • Bradley C. McCollum

    The author of this article left out the most important facts of this case. The 23 year old had a serious undiagnosed heart condition. The 28 year old had a history of cocaine, alcohol and methamphetamine abuse. Please republish this article with all the facts or take it down.

  • Bradley C. McCollum

    Read the story with all the facts. These 2 people who died did have a history of heart problems and SERIOUS drug abuse:

    http://www.techtimes.com/articles/3845/20140227/marijuana-kill-even-when-combined-drugs.htm#comment-1264055874


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