• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Doctors criticized for 'cannabis can kill' study

The Local · 26 Feb 2014, 11:31

Published: 26 Feb 2014 11:31 GMT+01:00

Researchers in Düsseldorf, North-Rhine Westphalia, claimed to have discovered the first cannabis-related deaths after performing a post-mortem examinations on 15 people whose deaths were linked to the drug.

They believe two of those deaths could not have been caused by anything other than cannabis, according to a study published in Forensic Science International this month under the title “Sudden unexpected death under acute influence of cannabis”.

But on Wednesday the German Association for Drugs and Addiction (FDR), which is based in Hannover, told The Local the study did not help educate people about the dangers of the drug.

“Cannabis does not paralyze the breathing or the heart," head of the FDR Jost Leune said. "Deaths due to cannabis use are usually accidents that are not caused by the substance, but to the circumstances of use.”

Leune added the dangers of marijuana were “exaggerated” and it was less harmful than alcohol or tobacco.

It estimated that three million people in Germany used cannabis.

According to the study, one of the men who died was an athletic 28-year-old found dead by his girlfriend next to an ashtray containing cigarette paper and marijuana. The autopsy found that there were no pre-existing medical conditions.

The second case was a healthy 23-year-old man.

Benno Hartung from the University Hospital in Düsseldorf said he and his colleagues performed autopsies and toxicological tests to rule out other causes of death such as liver disease and alcohol use.

“It’s a diagnosis of exclusion so you have to rule out all other possibilities,” Hartung told New Scientist.

Hartung claims that the two deaths from cardiac arrhythmia were directly the results of cannabis use, with marijuana apparently causing a sudden change in heartbeat.

Story continues below…

The 36-year-old admitted it was “a very rare event” but recommended that other researchers now investigate deaths involving marijuana.

“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 told New Scientist.

SEE ALSO: German doctors save man thanks to 'House' episode

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Analysis
Is it fair to call the AfD far right?
AfD leaders, from left, Georg Pazderski, Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen. Photo: DPA.

The AfD has been dubbed "far-right" over the past year as it has taken on a tougher stance against immigration and made gains in state elections. But at what point does one call a group far-right?

Dresden police guard Islamic buildings after mosque attack
The Dresden mosque that was hit by a homemade bomb attack on Monday. Photo: DPA.

All Islamic buildings in the capital of Saxony have been put under police protection on Tuesday after explosive devices were detonated at a mosque and a congress centre in the city.

Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook
Photo: DPA

German data protection authorities on Tuesday said they had blocked Facebook from collecting subscriber data from its subsidiary WhatsApp, citing privacy concerns.

Stuttgart fest pulls in twice as many boozers as Oktoberfest
Is this Oktoberfest or is this Stuttgart's Cannstatter Volksfest? Can you tell the difference? Well, it's Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

Apparently Munich is no longer the top place to wear lederhosen and down beer one litre at a time.

The Local List
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Photo: DPA

These films are so good, not even The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari made the list.

Young man destroys 17 cars after visiting Oktoberfest

Early on Monday morning a drunk 29-year-old trashed 17 cars after staggering out of Oktoberfest into the Munich streets. It was one of several eye-popping crimes from "Wiesn" over the past few days.

VW emissions scandal
Audi tech chief leaves after reports link him to 'dieselgate'
Audi's head of technical development Stefan Knirsch stepped down on Monday. Photo: DPA.

Audi's head of technical development stepped down "with immediate effect" on Monday, the luxury carmaker announced, after German media accused him of involvement in parent company Volkswagen's "dieselgate" scandal.

Deutsche Bank shares hit lowest level in quarter century
Photo: DPA.

Shares in Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, sank to a historic low on Monday after reports at the weekend that Berlin had refused state aid for the embattled lender.

The Local List
The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs
Photo: DPA

It's the start of autumn, which means the start of the university year. But along with the excitement comes the stress of finding housing - and in some glamorous locations this can be a nightmare.

German broadcaster sues Turkey over confiscated video
Akif Cagatay Kilic. Photo: DPA

German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle said Monday it had filed a civil complaint after a Turkish minister's office confiscated a taped video interview with him.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,511
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd