Cannabis is still not legal for recreational use in the UK (PictureL Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press /AP)
The first ever death caused by a cannabis overdose has been recorded in the US however it’s proved to be a controversial decision.
A Louisiana coroner ruled a 39-year-old woman died of a ‘THC overdose’ prompting skepticism from cannabis experts who claim it was an ‘incredibly unlikely’ cause of death.
Here’s what you need to know about the risk of death from cannabis use.
Can you die from smoking weed?
In theory, yes. Too much of any substance has the potential to kill a consumer however there had not been a single recorded death caused by overdose until days ago.
Put into perspective, 7,697 people died from alcohol-related causes in the UK in 2017 while 95,800 died of smoking-related deaths in 2016, according for the Office of National Statistics.
There has only been one recorded death of cannabis overdose (Picture: Don MacKinnon/Getty)
This is in contrast to the three UK deaths in which cannabis was noted on the death certificate – without the mention of other drugs or alcohol – in 2017.
While there has only been just one (questionable) case of overdose, smoking cannabis is not without its risks.
The NHS advises it could induce feelings of paranoia, increase risks of developing a psychotic illness – such as schizophrenia – or exacerbate symptoms of existing ones.
How long does THC stay in your blood?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a chemical found in the cannabis plant. It’s the primary psychoactive ingredient and almost entirely credited for creating a high.
Detection differs from person to person and is dependent on a number of factors including how much a person has consumed and how often they do so.
THC can remain in the bloodstream for two to seven days dependent on the person, but can be detected in urine and saliva past this time frame.
Charlotte Caldwell and her son Billy whose story encouraged the legalisation of medicinal cannabis (Picture: PA)
What is medical cannabis used for?
Medicinal use of cannabis was legalised in the UK in November, allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis-based products to patients.
The decision finally came about after the cases of two epileptic children who benefited from its use were thrust into the spotlight.
However prescription drug Sativex – which contains two active cannabis ingredients – have been used to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Another cannabinoid medication Nabilone- which uses a synthetic form of THC – is also used to relieve sickness in people undergoing chemotherapy.