Exchange student falls to death in Denver after eating marijuana cookie

DENVER Wed Apr 2, 2014 5:49pm EDT

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DENVER (Reuters) - An African exchange student plummeted to his death from a hotel balcony after eating a marijuana-infused cookie, in the first reported pot-related death in the city since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, the Denver coroner's office said on Wednesday.

Levi Thamba Pongi, 19, died on March 11 from injuries related to the fall and marijuana intoxication is listed as "a significant condition" that contributed to the accident, said Michelle Weiss-Samaras, spokeswoman for the Denver medical examiner's office.

Possession and use by adults of small amounts of recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado. The state's first retail pot shops opened in January.

Pongi, from the Republic of Congo, attended Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. He went on a spring break in Denver with three other exchange students from the school to try marijuana, Weiss-Samaras said.

All four of them tried cookies containing marijuana, she said. One girl in the group became ill after one bite, but when Pongi ate one of the cookies he "went off the wall" and started running around the hotel room, Weiss-Samaras said.

"His friends were terrified, and they did try to calm him down," she said, but he leapt from the balcony.

The autopsy showed that Pongi had a 7.2-nanogram-per-milliter level of THC, the psychoactive property in marijuana, and no other drugs or alcohol in his system, Weiss-Samaras said. Under Colorado law, a person is considered impaired at a 5-nanogram threshold of THC.

Weiss-Samaras said Pongi was not suicidal, and since his death did not involve other intoxicating substances or an event such as an automobile accident, the medical examiner determined that his death was linked to marijuana consumption.

"We just don't know how any one person will react," when consuming intoxicants, she said, adding that Pongi's case was the first cannabis-related death in Denver since recreational marijuana was legalized.

Pongi, an engineering student, enrolled at the two-year community college 400 miles north of Denver in January, said Emelee Volden, the school's intercultural program manager.

"We have 80 international students and it's a very close-knit community. It's been a very traumatic thing for them as well as to our entire student body," she said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (9)
Sad to hear about this, but, you don’t just pick up an edible and eat the whole thing if you are not familiar with the reactions (or anything else for that matter)….An edible can make experienced smokers dizzy, nauseous, vomiting and even passing out. The problem with the edible it takes normally 20 or 30 minutes until you start feeling the effects, but, then you get the entire rush all at once, and if you are not ready, it can be exactly opposite of what you are expecting. Edibles aren’t really for casual users that just want to catch a “buzz”, they are more for medicinal reasons for people with a high tolerance to the effects.

Apr 02, 2014 6:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
FRPSR wrote:
Conflation of events with rock ribbed patronizing , is a form of attitudinizing that is about as amusing as trying to figure out what kills more Americans , heart attacks from diet issues , guns guns guns , drink drive .
Oh , if the the amusement won’t kill you , the tickle will .

Apr 02, 2014 6:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Riversong wrote:
Pot aficionados like to believe that the only effect is a “mellowing”, that they are perfectly capable of driving while high, and that it’s impossible to die from marijuana consumption.

“Anxiety is the most commonly reported side effect of smoking marijuana. Between 20 and 30 percent of recreational users experience intense anxiety and/or panic attacks after smoking cannabis.” – “Medical Marijuana and the Mind”, Harvard Mental Health Letter, April 2010

Apr 02, 2014 6:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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