Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Too many marijuana candies and handgun make for suicidal mix in sad Colorado case

After three years of legalization and 15 months of recreational sales, there is now another sad case in which a premature death apparently can be closely connected to the consumption of edible marijuana.   This local story, headlined "Keystone visitor commits suicide after eating marijuana candies," provides these details:

A Tulsa, Oklahoma man visiting Keystone committed suicide after consuming a large amount of edible marijuana candies, according to a Summit County Coroner’s report. Summit County Coroner Regan Wood said the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. Luke Gregory Goodman, 22, was staying in Keystone with his cousin at the time of the incident, and was taken to Summit Medical Center Saturday night. Later, he was flown to St. Anthony’s Lakewood Hospital, where he was kept on life support for two days until he died Tuesday morning.

Wood said that Goodman’s cousin reported he and Goodman had consumed edibles earlier Saturday. A CBS4 report says Goodman bought $78 of edible marijuana with his cousin, Caleb Fowler, in Silverthorne. Goodman consumed five peach tart candies in total, each containing 10 mg of the active ingredient in marijuana, the recommended dose for an adult. The back of the package said the candies were supposed to take 1-2 hours take effect.

According to CBS4, Fowler said that several hours later, Goodman became “jittery” then incoherent and talking nonsensically. “He would make eye contact with us but didn’t see us, didn’t recognize our presence almost. He had never got close to this point, I had never seen him like this,” Fowler said.

Later, when his family left the condo, Goodman refused to join them. According to the report, Goodman may have used a handgun he normally carried for protection. Taneil Ilano, a Public Information Officer with the Summit County Sheriff’s Department, said a witness reported that Goodman consumed about four marijuana edibles that day, described as gummy bears. She added that police were dispatched around 10 p.m. on Saturday.

Luke Goodman’s mother, Kim Goodman, told CBS4 that her son had no signs of depression or suicidal thoughts, and believed the large amounts of edibles triggered his death. “It was 100 percent the drugs,” she said. “It was completely because of the drugs — he had consumed so much of it.”

The toxicology results are pending and will take about three weeks to be finalized.

As noted in this prior post from nearly a year ago, in the first part of 2014 two deaths in Denver were linked to marijuana intoxication .  I have been pleasantly surprised that there have not been more of these kinds of tragic cases resulting from misuse of the drug, but my heart now  goes out to everyone connected to this latest tragic incident.

Prior related post:

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2015/03/too-many-marijuana-candies-and-handgun-make-for-suicidal-mix-in-sad-colorado-case-.html

Current Affairs, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink

Comments

The mother says "It was 100 percent because of the drug", but if he had not been carrying a handgun, he likely would just have spent an unpleasant night and then recovered fully, like Maureen Dowd of the NYTimes.

Posted by: Richard Kennedy | Mar 27, 2015 5:34:13 AM

During 2010–2012, an annual average of 2,221 alcohol poisoning deaths (8.8 deaths per 1 million population) occurred among persons aged 15 year of age or older in the United States. Alcohol poisoning is typically caused by binge drinking at high intensity (i.e., consuming a very large amount of alcohol during an episode of binge drinking). On average, six persons, mostly adult men, die from alcohol poisoning each day in the United States.
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6353a2.htm?s_cid=mm6353a2_w

Should we ban alcohol?

Posted by: Chris Lindsey | Mar 27, 2015 7:48:53 AM

Chris, is there any data on alcohol overdose deaths in Colorado during recent years. Not only is that the key comparison stat, but I wonder if it is possible such deaths have decline as more people have legal access to a safer intoxicant.

Posted by: Doug B. | Mar 27, 2015 7:58:37 AM

I have not seen a historical analysis on the state level, although it would be interesting. I will keep looking. The "substitution" theory is hotly debated and comes up in various ways. For instance, alcohol-based DUI's seem to fall in medical marijuana states, leading to speculation that substitution may be a reason. It came up in 2011 in this study: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/papers/viewAbstract?dp_id=6112

Also, it gets linked to the "marijuana is safer" messaging, which the alcohol industry does not particularly appreciate. Interestingly, alcohol sales went up in Colorado in the months after the legalization law went into effect, but some think that was because there was a bump in tourism and more people went to bars during that period.

There was a study specifically on substitution that used a survey which may be of interest, available here: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/16066359.2012.733465

If I can get something on CO, I’ll follow this with more.

Posted by: Chris Lindsey | Mar 27, 2015 8:59:55 AM

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