Bangkok governor walks back claim that man died from ‘marijuana overdose’

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The Bangkok governor on Wednesday walked back the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)’s claim that a 51-year-old man died from smoking marijuana.

“The autopsy is still unclear,” Chadchart Sittipunt told reporters. “The initial report was only meant to inform that using marijuana has risks,” he said.

The governor said during the BMA meeting on Tuesday that he has concerns over the use of marijuana after it was decriminalized last week.

He said BMA’s health agencies have informed him that at least four people have overdosed on marijuana since June 9.

Two of the patients, 17 and 25, had symptoms of heart palpitations and it was assumed that it was caused by side effects of marijuana. Another 16-year-old patient required an endotracheal tube to assist with his breathing due to “using a lot of marijuana”.

The report also said that a 51-year-old male felt chest pain after using marijuana before he suffered from heart failure and cardiac arrest before he died.

He said the health agencies told him that such marijuana-related statistics have not been seen before the decriminalization.

On Wednesday, he said there is a need for more details from the autopsy of the 51-year-old man before any conclusion can be made on the cause of his death.

“There were not enough details and we still do not know if his death was caused by an underlying disease or because he was smoking marijuana coupled with an underlying disease,” he said.

He said the BMA will keep on monitoring the situation and continue to provide information on marijuana usage and its side effects. He also said the administration is looking to ban marijuana from schools in Bangkok such as not allowing it to be sold near schools.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who pushed for the decriminalization of marijuana said on Wednesday that the report from BMA lacks information on how much marijuana the 51-year-old has taken or how long he has been smoking it.

The parliament is currently debating on a draft law to regulate the usage of marijuana. Currently, the production and possession of marijuana are no longer illegal.

Marijuana extracts with more than 0.2 per cent THC are still illegal while smoking marijuana in public is now considered a public nuisance and violators could face a fine of up to 25,000 baht or jail for no more than three months.

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