Louisiana Coroner’s Claim of “THC Overdose” Met with Skepticism from Experts

Louisiana Coroner’s Claim of “THC Overdose” Met with Skepticism from Experts



Ever since the era of Reefer Madness, soldiers in the War on Drugs were all-too-happy to lump marijuana in with other, much more dangerous substances. Consequently, the potential for fatal overdose became stamped to THC, simply because it shared the same legal territory as heroin or cocaine.

Today, myths like deadly THC overdoses have long been debunked, but that does not stop some “experts” and proponents from still making the claim.

One such example is Louisiana Coroner Christy Motegut, who, according to Newsweek, swears that the death of a 39-year-old woman was caused by THC overdose.

While legalization opponents are no doubt happy to run with this story, experts are skeptical, to say the least.


Is THC Deadly?


Theoretically, yes, THC can be deadly. But the sheer amount necessary for a fatal overdose is essentially impossible to reach. According to Newsweek:


“Bernard Le Foll, a professor at the University of Toronto who studies addiction has said the levels of THC in the woman’s system at the time of her death were insufficient to amount to a fatal dose. In the past it has been estimated an individual would have to smoke 2,000 joints to ingest a lethal amount of THC.”


Obviously, the number of theoretical joints would change based on potency, but let us try to illustrate a rough estimate. The THC percentage in a strain reflects the number of milligrams per gram. A strain with 10% THC (fairly low by today’s standards), has 10mg per gram.

If each of the 2,000 joints contains 0.5g to 1g of cannabis, this would require 10,000mg of THC to be fatal.

No edible, concentrate or smoked herb will be able to deliver nearly that much THC. While there are edibles that can reach levels as high as 1,000mg, the body would reject either the food or the THC, inducing vomiting (“greening out”) long before drug has a chance to hit our rough estimate of 10,000mg.

Montegut, however, stands by her claim on the basis that the victim was smoking oil concentrate through a vape pen, stating:


“I’m thinking this lady must have vaped this THC oil and got a high level in her system and [it] made her stop breathing, like a respiratory failure.”


It is not hard to find concentrate cartridges with 1,000mg in both legal and illegal dispensaries. But again, this is nowhere near enough and any savvy user knows that these products are not meant to be consumed all at once.


Statistics do not Reflect the Narrative


Despite Montegut’s insistence, experts point out the fact that current statistics do not support this coroner’s claim. Keith Humphreys, who once served as senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, says:


“We know from really good survey data that Americans use cannabis products billions of times a year, collectively. Not millions of times, but billions of times a year. So, that means that if the risk of death was one in a million, we would have a couple thousand cannabis overdose deaths a year.”


Other Explanations Dismissed


In her report, Montegut conveniently fails to mention testimony from the woman’s boyfriend. The news and pop culture site, Complex, reveals:


4WWL obtained a police report on the woman’s death, explaining that the boyfriend also told authorities that the woman had visited the emergency room just weeks before her death due to a chest infection. Following the visit, according to the report, the woman returned home with the hospital-advised treatment options of Mucinex and Robitussin D.”


Ultimately, the only expert who believes in deadly THC overdoses is the coroner.


WeedAdvisor’s Concern Over Misinformation


Despite the turning tide of public opinion, we are under no illusions about the stigma and lies surrounding marijuana that are still alive and well in some circles.

Fortunately, the medical community has more than enough evidence to counter claims from people like Montegut.

As these misrepresentations continue to rear their ugly heads, rest assured that WeedAdvisor will be quick to find them and put them down.

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