An African exchange student reportedly fell to his death in Denver, Colorado after eating a pot cookie. As unusual as this cause of death may sound, it’s not entirely shocking. Marijuana may be rumored to be non-addictive but now no one can claim it isn’t dangerous.
Edible Gone Wrong
Anyone who has experimented with edibles (um, that includes me) has at least one I-was-so-high-I-thought-I-was-in-a-portal-to-the-fourth-dimension story in their repertoire, so the idea that someone could eat a baked item laced with weed, lose their balance and fall off a hotel balcony isn’t beyond the scope of probability. Though it’s a bit shocking that any amount of THC would cause someone to go “off the wall” and throw himself from a hotel balcony, that’s unfortunately what happened to Levi Thamba Pongi, a 19-year old boy from the Republic of Congo who was in Denver for spring break last month.
Pongi, who was studying at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, reportedly drove across the border into Colorado with a few friends to “try marijuana.” That statement alone might be part of the problem. It’s not as if Wyoming is some kind of policed state, impervious to illegal pot smoking—especially on a college campus. And while it might be legal to smoke pot in Colorado (if you have medical marijuana card), it hardly seems worth the nearly eight-hour drive to Denver from Powell, Wyoming to try it. Which leads me to believe that these kids were either so square that they couldn’t bear the thought of using drugs illegally (even though obtaining a pot card from a state where you don’t live when you don’t have qualifying medical issues isn’t exactly above board) or they were so socially disconnected that it was actually easier for them to drive to another state and lie than it was for them to score pot on their own campus. Both point to a group of people who are most likely not at all experienced in using substances to alter their state of mind.
Also, eating pot affects the body differently than smoking pot and the amount of THC in a single cookie can be hard to regulate, especially if the goods are homemade and the baker hasn’t attended Oaksterdam. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states, “High doses of marijuana can produce a temporary psychotic reaction (involving hallucinations and paranoia) in some users,” which may explain Pongi’s adverse reaction. It also explains why I spent four years of high school thinking everyone was talking about me.
Time to Balance
The news of a young and promising foreign exchange student having his life cut short due to a common rite of passage for college-age kids is tragic. But with the with the rapidly changing social views and medical laws on marijuana, I think an adjustment period should be expected and the pendulum will first swing far into the let’s-get-buck-wild direction before it returns to center. Still, with stories like Pongi’s popping up, it might be sooner than we think.
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