Gemma Moss, age 31, was a single mother, from Bournemouth, UK. According to the Huffington Post UK, Gemma Moss attended church regularly, and was described by those who knew her as a ‘devout Christian’. She was found dead in October of 2013, by her 15-year-old son’s girlfriend. The coroner that examined her body ruled that the young mother died from “Cannabis Poisoning.”
A pot overdose?
Gemma Moss smoked pot for years, as a method of dealing with anxiety and insomnia. She stopped smoking pot 2 years before her death, but reportedly started using the drug again for medicinal purposes, after a break up with a boyfriend.
Although marijuana is illegal in the UK, witnesses say that Gemma Moss would smoke about a half a joint, before bed, to help her fall asleep at night. According to coroner Sheriff Payne’s report, Gemma Moss had no major health issues, and all of her vital organs were fine.
“The postmortem could find no natural cause for her death,”
Payne told the UK Mirror.
“with the balance of probability that it is more likely than not that she died from the effects of cannabis.”
Anti-pot groups warned us about this.
The cause of death determination in the Gemma Moss case has stirred up controversy on both sides of the marijuana debate. On one side, anti-pot crusaders are shouting that it’s just the beginning. To them, Gemma Moss’ death is proof that they were right along, when they tried to warn everyone of the deadly effects of ‘killer cannabis.’
A major problem with US groups using the coroner’s ruling to show why pot should not be legal in this country, is that pot is not legal in the UK. In fact, the penalties for marijuana use in the UK are even more harsh than those handed out in the US. Marijuana possession can result in a 5 year jail sentence and unlimited fine.
Even if Gemma Moss’ death were the result of smoking half a joint, it’s pretty clear that the harsh laws imposed in the UK did nothing to deter her from using it.
Not everyone believes Gemma Moss died from a pot overdose.
On the other side of the argument, marijuana legalization groups are convinced that the coroner’s ruling is a scare tactic, just a ruse to try to sway public opinion against the legalization effort.
The UK coroner ruled that Gemma Moss’ death was related to marijuana. simply because he couldn’t find anything else wrong with her. His ruling also goes against decades of research. Numerous scientific studies have shown that marijuana is the safest therapeutic drug available.
As early as 1988 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration determined that a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC that exists in a joint, to face a risk of dying.
Pathologist Dr. Kudair Hussein, who also played a role in the cause of death determination, told an inquiry into Gemma Moss’ death that he:
“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.”
Dr. Husein did not provide citations for the reports he says that he reviewed.
Doctors and activists are questioning the ruling.
Peter Reynolds, leader of UK’s Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), told HuffPost UK that science just doesn’t support the Moss ruling.
“There must have been another factor involved and there isn’t any evidence that cannabis was the causative factor. Tragically, spontaneous cardiac arrest does occur in apparently healthy people. Cannabis is the least toxic therapeutically active substance known to man.”
The New York Daily News contacted several respected doctors in the New York Area, in an attempt to determine whether the story was fact or fiction. Dr. Yasmin Hurd, Professor Of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai responded by saying:
“From half a joint? That’s ridiculous.”
Dr. Bradley Flansbaum of Lenox Hill Hospital said:
“It would be very, very, very unlikely to get a lethal dose of the marijuana if wasn’t adulterated with something,”
Nearly all of the medical professionals contacted by the Huffington Post and New York Daily News agreed that if the pot was laced with a more dangerous drug, it could have been the cause, but that the cause would have to be attributed to the drug it was laced with, not the marijuana.
“No cases of fatal overdose have been reported. No confirmed cases of human deaths.”
The Huffington Post also interviewed Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project. Tvert stated:
“For an adult to die solely from marijuana itself, it would take a couple hundred pounds of it being dropped on their head from a tall building. “
Will the ruling stand?
Cannabis activists from around the world are calling for another look into Gemma Moss’s death, as they believe it is literally impossible that her death was caused by cannabis.
“Miss Moss’s family deserve to know what actually happened, they do not deserve to have their family member’s memory tainted by sensationalist and unscientific headlines and news reports,”
spokesman Greg de Hoedt of the NORML UK told reporters.
Another group called “Justice For Gemma Moss,” is also demanding an inquiry into the cause of death ruling. The group asserts that:
“Dr Kudair Hussein has acted against the available scientific literature in his field when making a determination of death by “cannabis poisoning” in the case of Gemma Moss. He is on the board at the Poole Hospital, a member of the NHS and a public employee; as such he is subject to public accountability. His findings have the potential to harm the reputation of the deceased, negatively affect the family she has left behind, and creates an unscientific precedent in the determination of death in the cases like these. Medical professionals are bound to operate within the accepted scientific literature and this conduct strays from that standard.”
As of right now, Gemma Moss’ death is officially considered a marijuana ‘drug overdose’.