News outlets have been running a story lately about a woman who purportedly died on February 19 from inhaling marijuana in LaPlace, Louisiana. The cause of death was determined by St. John the Baptist Parish coroner, Dr. Christy Montegut.

The report has understandably been met with a great deal of skepticism and even outrage. If there’s one thing that every cannabis reform advocate knows, it’s that no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose.

So, what really happened in Louisiana?

The Deceased

According to Montegut, the woman in question, who was 39 and has yet to be identified, was found dead on her couch in her apartment.

“I knew this was very unusual,” he told 4WWL ‘s Jacquelin Quinn. “I was expecting maybe elevated levels of alcohol or maybe some other drug.”

In the autopsy, “The only thing we found was an elevated level of THC,” he said. The women’s boyfriend said she used a vape pen. Since the vape pen wasn’t recovered, Montegut searched the web and found that the oils used in pens are often as high as 80% THC.

“For marijuana to show up positive on a toxicology test, the level has to be greater than 0.5,” he explained. Her level was 8.4.

This led Montegut to conclude that “at high levels, marijuana can cause respiratory depression, which means a decrease in breathing, and if it’s a high enough level it can make you stop breathing.” Hence, she died from pot.

The police report added that the deceased woman went to a local hospital three weeks earlier with a chest infection. She was told to take Mucinex and Robitussin D.”

The Coroner

Christy Montegut, a family practice and preventive medicine doctor, has served as the elected coroner for St. John the Baptist Parish since 1988. He’s also the athletic director of the LaPlace Lions Club.

As a local physician, he spends most of his time seeing patients and admits that determining causes of death is “not something we were trained to do in medical school.”

Nevertheless, over the years, he’s been required as coroner to “take care of situations like homicides, suicides, car crashes and infant deaths in the parish,” Montegut explained in 2016 in L’Observateur.

Dr. Christy Montegut in L’Observateur: “I am writing to inform your readers that the St. John Parish Coroner’s Office has recorded its first case of drug overdose death due to THC (marijuana) overdose.”

While Louisiana is the only state that requires coroners be medical doctor, there’s no requirement they also be trained as forensic pathologists, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since Montegut is not a forensic pathologist, he’s arguably not qualified to determine the cause of death in this controversial case.

“Forensic pathology is the main field of forensic medicine which involves all matters diagnosed at autopsy, such as the cause of death, determination of time of death, estimation of degree/properties of injuries, personal identification of an unidentified body and so on,” according to the Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.

Yet Montegut had the audacity to write in L’Observateur on May 18:

“I …read more

Source:: Daily times

      

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Death by Cannabis in Louisiana? We Don’t Think So.

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