Devout Christian mother-of-three, 31, becomes first woman in Britain to DIE from cannabis poisoning after smoking a joint in bed
Gemma Moss, a 31-year-old churchgoer, of Boscombe, in Bournemouth, Dorset, collapsed in bed after smoking a cannabis cigarette that led her to have moderate to high levels of the class B drug in her system. Tests of her vital organs found nothing wrong with them although it was suggested she might have suffered a cardiac arrest triggered by cannabis toxicity.
Miss Moss’ death was registered as cannabis toxicity and a coroner has recorded a verdict of death by cannabis abuse. Deaths directly from cannabis are highly unusual. In 2004 a 36-year-old man from Pembrokeshire became the first person in the UK to died from cannabis toxicity.
David Raynes, of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: ‘It is extremely rare and unusual for a coroner to rule death from cannabis abuse. ‘In 40 years I have never come across deaths from cannabis alone. There have been cases where it has been combined with other drugs or alcohol. ‘It has often been said that cannabis doesn’t cause death. Users usually pass out before they can take enough cannabis to kill them. ‘This case serves as a warning that cannabis can cause immense harm. ‘Cannabis is known to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Cannabis these days is designed to be much stronger than cannabis used in the sixties to meet demand of users who want a stronger hit.’
Miss Moss, a devout Christian, had frequently used cannabis during her adult life but had stopped for two years before her death last October. She started using it again to help her sleep after becoming depressed and anxious due to breaking up with her boyfriend.
An inquest heard Miss Moss smoked half a joint a night to help get her to sleep. Her friend, Zara Hill, said she and Miss Moss smoked cannabis worth about £20 together in the week before her death. Miss Hill told police that Miss Moss smoked as much as £60 of the drug a week, although this was disputed by her family. On the night of October 28 last year, Miss Moss, who had two sons, Tyler, 15, and Tessiah, eight, and a daughter, went to bed after rolling a joint. She was found unresponsive in bed the following morning by Chloe Wilkinson, the girlfriend of Miss Moss’ teenage son. She summoned an ambulance to the flat in Boscombe but Miss Moss was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her friend said she and Miss Moss smoked cannabis worth about £20 together in the week before her death. Half of a joint was found underneath her body and a wrapper containing brown and green leaves of the class B drug was discovered in her handbag. A post-mortem examination revealed that there were no obvious signs of abnormality in Miss Moss’ body.
But Dr Kudair Hussein, a pathologist, told the inquest in Bournemouth, that there were moderate to heavy levels of canabinoids in her blood. He said: ‘The physical examination and the examination of various organs including the heart and the liver showed no abnormality that could account for her death. ‘The level of canabinoids in the blood were 0.1 to 0.15 miligrams per litre, this is considered as moderate to heavy cannabis use. ‘I looked through literature and it’s well known that cannabis is of very low toxicity. ‘But there are reports which say cannabis can be considered as a cause of death because it can induce a cardiac arrest.’
Tests of her vital organs found nothing wrong with them although it was suggested she might have suffered a cardiac arrest triggered by cannabis toxicity
Mr Sheriff Payne, the Bournemouth coroner, asked Dr Hussein: ‘You are satisfied it was the affects of cannabis that caused her death.’ Dr Hussain replied: ‘Yes sir.’
The inquest heard Miss Moss grew up in London but moved to Bournemouth about five years ago. She was said to have changed her lifestyle and found faith since relocating to the south coast. She regularly attended the evangelical Citygate Church in Bournemouth and was baptised there last year. Her mother, Kim Furness, told the inquest her daughter struggled to sleep and had admitted that she had started smoking a ‘small amount’ of cannabis at night. Miss Furness said: ‘For years she smoked it (cannabis) every day. ‘When she moved to Bournemouth she stopped for two years and then had a break up with her relationship and started again+6
‘It was one half of a joint to get to sleep. She never smoked in the day. She was really honest about cannabis because from where we come from its normal to smoke cannabis. ‘She was trying to stop again. She rang me and said “mum, I have just started again, I will stop but I needed half to get to sleep”.’ ‘She said she would go to the doctors to get something to help her sleep to stop her doing it. She wasn’t excessively smoking.’
Detective Inspector Peter Little read a statement from Miss Hill.
She also Miss Moss was stressed about her benefit money being stopped and because her son had been excluded from school. In recording a verdict that Miss Moss died from drug abuse, Mr Payne said: ‘Gemma had been a long term user of cannabis. ‘She suffered from depression and was on prescription drugs to try and deal with that although it would not appear she was taking them at the time of her death. ‘She usually used it (cannabis) in the evenings to try and help her to get to sleep and did not use it in the day time. The post mortem could find no natural cause for her death.
‘With the balance of probability that it is more likely than not that she died from the effects of cannabis.’ Carolyn Stuart, a coroner’s officer, said: ‘It is very rare to have cannabis toxicity as a cause of death. She was a healthy 31-year-old woman who had nothing wrong with her.’ Russell White, a leader at the Citygate Church, said: ‘Gemma was a good mother and brought up her children mainly on her own. ‘She was full of fun and loved life and loved coming to church. She was a committed member of the church and brought her children along. ‘I think she came from a difficult background but she I think she was clean to a large degree in terms of drugs. ‘She is very much missed and her death was a real shock to us.’
Miss Moss lived with her two sons but it believed her daughter lived with her father in Jamaica. Last October Miss Moss posted on her Facebook page about how excited she was about travelling to the Caribbean to visit her daughter over Christmas. Lucy Dawe, from the anti-cannabis group Cannabis Skunk Sense, said: ‘People who are pro-cannabis will say it won’t kill anybody but unfortunately it does. It is very upsetting because we now have three young people with no mother and the mother probably thought she was doing something perfectly safe.
‘Along with death, cannabis can also cause a lot of other problems like psychosis, chronic depression, strokes, and anxiety.
‘These effects need to be something that are generally well-known. People think because cannabis is a plant it won’t be dangerous but it leads people to a false sense of security.’ But Peter Reynolds, president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, a group that campaigns legalising the class B drug, said he doesn’t believe anyone can die from taking it. He said: ‘It is popularly believed that there has never been a death because of a toxic effect of cannabis on the body. ‘Clearly, it is possible that somebody may have had an accident while intoxicated through cannabis use but that would be an indirect cause. ‘Unlike opiates, alcohol or other drugs, cannabis cannot depress basic life functions to the point of death. ‘Cannabis is probably the least toxic therapeutically active substance known to man. ‘In conclusion, I would say that it is pretty much unbelievable that anyone’s death could be directly attributable to cannabis.’
Source: MailOnline 30th January 2014
Despite increasing evidence of the harmfulness of cannabis, and the Coroner and Pathologist agreeing that Gemma Moss died from cannabis toxicity, Peter Reynolds, of the Cannabis Law Reform group, unsurprisingly, believes he knows better. Whenever any article is published from reputable sources – often scientists or doctors – about health risks from the use of cannabis there will inevitably follow hundreds of comments from users of the drug denying the scientific findings.