Yesterday, the first marijuana-related death following legalization measures in Washington and Colorado was put on record.
The 19-year-old jumped off the balcony of a Denver hotel on March 11, according to his friends. The police report, however, is listing his death as an accidental fall. Regardless of what killed him, “marijuana intoxication” is listed as a “significant contributing factor.”
Levi Thamba Pongi was an exchange student from the Republic of Congo, studying at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. He had only just arrived in the US to study engineering in January. He was in Denver with friends for Spring Break, one of whom was old enough to be able to buy a cookie sold in one of the city’s pot shops.
Pongi’s behavior was “hostile,” according to his friends. They tried to calm him down, and it worked for a time. Then, he walked onto the balcony and either jumped or fell.
The medical examiner’s office tested Pongi for at least 250 different substances, including bath salts and synthetic marijuana. Only marijuana showed up, and at a level that was considered too inebriated to operate an automobile.
While it is impossible to test for everything, it is notable that in the first marijuana-related death following the controversial measures found nothing other than marijuana in his blood sample.
Marijuana legalization was touted as being the panacea to the myriad problems surrounding its illegal status. However, now that marijuana is legal in some areas, we are seeing that the change has not been without its own problems.
It is relatively safe to assume that, had Pongi not been high, he probably would not have jumped (if that was the case) and he probably would have had the presence of mind and coordination to keep from falling (if it was an accident). That illustrates one of the many problems with how the law deals with addiction and addiction treatment, as well as recording data relating to the deaths of those people.
According to the government’s own studies, alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use are responsible for one in four deaths in the US. It is the leading cause of deaths, illnesses, and disabilities compared to any other preventable health condition.
To make matters worse, legalized marijuana is expected to bring in an estimated $130 million in 2014 alone. That sounds like a lot, until we realize that amount probably will not cover the costs associated with making pot legal, such as implementing new regulations, aiding law enforcement, public health and safety initiatives, and the litany of other expenses people do not generally consider in matters such as these.
Factor in that 2014 stands to be the most profitable for legalized recreational marijuana due to its novelty, and this supposed moral and ethical “progress” looks more like the trap it has always been.
Now, with the first marijuana-related death post-legalization on the books, maybe people will stop looking at marijuana through rose-colored glasses. There is a term for people who continue to use and seek out a drug despite negative consequences and effects.
They are called addicts. So please, enlighten me, how is it not addictive again?
First Marijuana-Related Death
What are your thoughts? Are we headed down the wrong path, or one that is largely blown out of proportion? Let us know in the comments!