Death By Marijuana? Brits Say It Happened

British officials contend that Gemma Moss overdosed on a small amount of pot. "That’s ridiculous," says a New York doc.

One of the linchpin arguments in favor of marijuana legalization is that pot does not have a lethal dose. Yet, in England, a coroner and pathologist are claiming that a 31-year-old woman died of cannabis poisoning last year.

Gemma Moss regularly smoked half a joint to help her go to sleep at night. On Oct. 29, she took several puffs before heading to bed, but never woke up in the morning.

After examining her body, the local coroner in Bournemouth (106 miles southwest of London), Sheriff Payne, concluded that "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."

Pathologist Dr. Kudair Hussein concurred.

According to the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy, "No evidence exists that anyone has ever died of a marijuana overdose. Tests performed on mice have shown that the ratio of cannabinoids (the chemicals in marijuana that make you stoned) necessary for overdose to the amount necessary for intoxication is 40,000:1. For comparison's sake, that ratio for alcohol is generally between 4:1 and 10:1. Alcohol overdoses kill about 5,000 yearly, but marijuana overdoses kill no one as far as anyone can tell."

A psychiatry professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York questions the conclusion that Moss died from marijuana use. "From half a joint?" Dr. Yasmin Hurd asks. "That's ridiculous."

Moss had three children, but was estranged from her husband, who lives in Jamaica.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.