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Last Word: Tragic Colorado Overdose Shows Again Why Feds Need to Get Off the Pot – and Act

I’ve said before that I have been in the media for a long time, so I still haven’t quite gotten used to the “comments” that so many readers add to stories that are posted online.

My wife loves to look at the comments because she believes that what readers have added is frequently the best part.

I’m not always sure she’s right, but here’s one where I am inclined to agree.

This week, there has been a lot of coverage concerning a Wyoming teen-ager, who, according to CBS News, “visited Denver in March of 2014 and overdosed on a pot cookie.”

The student was 19-year-old Levy Thamba Pongi, “an exchange student from the Republic of Congo. Investigators say he had no history of drug use or mental illness.”

Here’s more from the CBS News story:

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Pongi and his college friends were visiting Denver, possibly for marijuana tourism, when a friend purchased the marijuana cookie. In Colorado, anyone over 21 can legally purchase marijuana, including sweet edibles like cookies, brownies and candies.

Workers at the dispensary recommended eating only about one-sixth of the marijuana cookie, which was the recommended 10 mg serving of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot. They said it could take 30 minutes to feel any effects. But after 30 minutes, not feeling any different, Pongi ate the whole cookie — 65 mg of THC.

The police report said he told friends, “This is a sign from God that this has happened, that I can’t control myself. It’s not because of the weed.”

About two and a half hours after finishing the cookie, he jumped from a fourth floor hotel balcony and died of trauma. The autopsy report listed marijuana intoxication as a chief contributing factor.”

The story goes on to lightly — emphasis on lightly — dig into the CDC’s report on the teen’s death and how much easier it is to over do it and ingest too much THC.

It adds that, “The CDC says all states where recreational marijuana is legal — currently Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and the District of Columbia — should have clear guidelines and labels for marijuana edibles. The concern is not only for those who are using the products themselves, but also those who obtain products from others and for children who may be attracted to the sweets without realizing they contain the drug.”

This is a pretty straightforward story, and I didn’t think much about it — until I read this comment that reader BobbyBillGC added:

You would have to consume over 45 lbs of high grade cannabis in less than 20 minutes to physically die from a MJ overdose. Also, the CDC conveniently leaves out that in both edible incidents they refer to, one on 2010 and one in 2014, the people involved were also using alcohol on top of the edible. The edibles in both incidents were labeled properly and in one case the person was even advised before hand by the sales clerk on dosage as well as the large dosage recommendation that was on the edible packaging that both persons then ignored.

Stupidity is the disease and culprit that the CDC fails to see in their data on this subject as well as their bias in disregarding the deaths of 8 teenagers a day on average from alcohol related death where the labeling was disregarded as well..

So again, a big propaganda from biased hypocritical CDC administrators trying to stir up a storm over recreational legal MJor MMJ use and products  instead of finding a cure for teenage stupidity and disregard for labeling of most consumable products for recreational levitation or partying purposes of just about anything with a label already….”

Wow … I wasn’t expecting that kind of blast on what I thought was a pretty straightforward news story. And, this was only one of 130 comments on the CBS News report.

Another story on NJ.com had 40 comments of a similar nature. The Washington Post’s version had 28, and a great majority of them were like the one above by BobbyBillGC — an impassioned defense of marijuana and a loud complaint that no one writes these kind of stories about alcohol overdosing even those it is much more common and frequent.

I love the passion the marijuana defenders bring to the table, but they need to understand they’re singing to the choir here. It takes a lot to get someone to take the time to actually write and post a comment, so it takes someone supremely passionate — like marijuana defenders — to do so.

But that’s not where the real fight is. That one is in the court of public opinion where far too many people read stories like these and then jump to all sorts of conclusions about marijuana and use them to make a case for WHY it should never be fully legalized.

Marijuana supporters need to expend their energy more productively than adding an over the top rant to a CBS News story.

A call or letter to their congressman, or U.S. Senator, would be better, and I would make sure I pointed out how tragic death’s like this one in Colorado might be avoided if the Federal Government would get off the pot and do something on a national level to not only legalize cannabis use, but also set up national standards for packaging as well.

Marijuana supporters need to help frame this debate or else it will get framed for them. They need to channel their passion more productively, because the piecemeal, state-by-state approach is slow and just a work around until the Feds get their act together and do something.

I’d love to see more rants telling them THAT.

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