About a month ago, the ever-cautious and beyond-reproach British press ran a sensational story about a drug-induced death. Something called "cannabis poisoning," they reported, killed a 31-year-old mother.
This would be new. Though abundant amounts of high-grade marijuana food have killed off pets, as far as science and even the prohibitionist federal government in the United States know, there is no such thing as "cannabis poisoning" in humans, at least in feasible reality.
Or is there? Researchers in Germany say they have discovered the world's first "cannabis-related deaths," a pair of healthy men in their 20s who succumbed to cardiac arrythmia.
Has the magic plant finally claimed its first victim, several thousand years into its history with humans?
About 3 million people in Germany use cannabis, part of the roughly 203 million people worldwide who consume the drug, according to the Düsseldorf-based researchers, whose findings were published in the current edition of Forensic Science International.
They say that the two men -- an "athletic" 28-year-old man found dead next to an ashtray that contained "cigarette paper and marijuana", and a 23-year-old, also healthy before he was dead -- died of cannabis poisoning simply because no other cause of death was found.
This is called "a diagnosis of exclusion," the researchers said, in defending their findings.
So since no reason was found, and since cannabis was present, "you have to rule out all other possibilities," said researcher Benno Hartung, who added that such deaths are "very rare event[s]" -- and urged more researchers to do more work.
The German Association for Drugs and Addiction, which helped introduce methadone clinics in the 1980s, predictably threw up their hands in disgust at the news.
"Cannabis does not paralyze the breathing or the heart," association head Jost Leune said.
As the drug becomes more and more legal around the world, opponents to the end of drug prohibition appear willing to grasp at the smallest of straws to halt marijuana legalization in its tracks.
This week, the chief of police in Annapolis, Maryland told a government meeting that 37 people died on the first day pot was legally sold in Colorado. The chief was quoting a media report -- made in a satirical Web site.
Drug cops are essentially quoting The Onion to prolong prohibition, people. And doctors are publishing findings that say, because we cannot find any reason why this person died, it must be the marijuana. It's not easy being weed.