Sudden unexpected death under acute influence of cannabis

Forensic Sci Int. 2014 Apr:237:e11-3. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.02.001. Epub 2014 Feb 12.


The acute toxicity of cannabinoids is said to be low and there is little public awareness of the potentially hazardous cardiovascular effects of cannabis, e.g. marked increase in heart rate or supine blood pressure. We describe the cases of two young, putative healthy men who died unexpectedly under the acute influence of cannabinoids. To our knowledge, these are the first cases of suspected fatal cannabis intoxications where full postmortem investigations, including autopsy, toxicological, histological, immunohistochemical and genetical examinations, were carried out. The results of these examinations are presented. After exclusion of other causes of death we assume that the young men experienced fatal cardiovascular complications evoked by smoking cannabis.

Keywords: Acute intoxication; Cannabis; Cardiovascular events; Hypertensive crisis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated / pathology*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / pathology
  • Coronary Thrombosis / pathology
  • Death, Sudden / etiology*
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Heart Failure / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Myoglobin / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Myoglobin