Pubdate: Sat, 19 Apr 2014
Source: News-Item, The (PA)
Copyright: 2014 Associated Press
Author: Sadie Gurman, Associated Press


DENVER (AP) - A college student eats more than the recommended dose 
of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel 
balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting 
his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy. ED

The two recent deaths have stoked concerns about Colorado's 
recreational marijuana industry and the effects of the drug, 
especially since cookies, candy and other pot edibles can be 
exponentially more potent than a joint.

"We're seeing hallucinations, they become sick to their stomachs, 
they throw up, they become dizzy and very anxious," said Al 
Bronstein, medical director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.

Studies are mixed about whether there is any link between marijuana 
and violence. Still, pot legalization opponents said the deaths are a 
sign of future dangers.

Twenty-six people have reported poisonings from marijuana edibles 
this year, when the center started tracking such exposures. Six were 
children who swallowed innocent-looking edibles, most of which were 
in plain sight.

Five of those kids were sent to emergency rooms, and two to hospitals 
for intensive care, Bronstein said. Children were nauseous and 
sleepy, and doctors worried about their respiratory systems shutting down.

Supporters of the pot law and some experts counter that alcohol 
causes far more problems among users, and the issues with pot can be 
largely addressed through better regulations.

The deaths occurred as Colorado lawmakers are scrambling to create 
safety regulations for the largely unmonitored marijuana snacks. On 
Thursday, the Legislature advanced a package of bills that would 
lower the amount of THC that could be permitted in a serving of food 
and require more extensive warning labels.

"It really is time for regulators, and the industry, to look at how 
do we move forward more responsibly with edible products," said Brian 
Vicente, who helped lead the state's legalization campaign.

An autopsy report listed marijuana intoxication as a significant 
contributing factor in the death of 19-year-old Levy Thamba Pongi.

Authorities said Pongi, who traveled from Wyoming to Denver with 
friends to try marijuana, ate six times more than the amount 
recommended by a seller. In the moments before his death, he spoke 
erratically and threw things around his hotel room.

Toxicologists later found that the cookie Pongi ate contained as much 
THC- marijuana's intoxicating chemical- as six high-quality joints.

Less is known about Richard Kirk, 47, who was charged in Denver with 
shooting his 44-year-old wife to death while she was on the phone 
with a 911 dispatcher. Police said his wife reported that her husband 
had consumed marijuana-laced candy, but no information has been 
released about potency.
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