Marijuana Poisoning in Colorado

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With legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the news media is watching closely to see whose predictions will pan out – will the marijuana advocates prove their point about “safe and responsible,” or will the anti-weed arguments about addiction and social costs win the day? With major media outlets focused on these two states, a story came out last week of what they have termed a “marijuana poisoning.”

Two students at the University of Colorado brought some marijuana fortified brownies onto the campus for a “bring food to class day.” But they made a huge mistake: they didn’t tell anyone about the pot in the brownies.

News reports say that three people ended up going to the hospital for symptoms ranging from unexplained dizziness and sleepiness to a paranoid-style panic attack. For regular users of marijuana, these symptoms might sound familiar. After all, getting high can be described as “dizzy and sleepy,” while others have experienced some level of paranoia. However, since the three involved didn’t know they had ingested marijuana, they had no idea what was happening to them. The symptoms were assumed to be from some unknown medical condition.

All three were subsequently released from the hospital with no ill effects.

The two students arrested, Thomas Cunningham, 21 and Mary Essa, 19, were charged with second-degree assault and fraudulently inducing the consumption of a controlled substance. It’s also important to note that while marijuana use passed under Colorado state law, federal law still prohibits it. And since many of the contracts universities hold are with the federal government, marijuana use is still prohibited on campus.

The bottom line seems to be that this prank/assault was a horrible idea and one which will be brought up as an example of how legalization can get out of hand. There’s no doubt the students used poor judgment at the least and acted to harm others at the most, but as in all news stories that go national, the significance will be felt long after everyone concerned has moved on.

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