A doctor says he and a co-author did not mean to suggest that they had documented the first known case of death by marijuana overdose.
Thomas Nappe’s report with Christopher Hoyte about the death of an 11-month-old baby in 2015 went viral last week following media reports about its findings.
“We are absolutely not saying that marijuana killed that child,” Nappe told The Washington Post last Friday.
Nappe explained that himself and Hoyte observed an unusual sequence of events surrounding the boy in 2015, documented it and alerted the medical community about their results.
The pair meant to suggest that it would be worth studying possible links between cannabis and myocarditis, the inflammation of the heart muscle that ultimately killed the child.
“We’re not saying definitively that marijuana caused the myocarditis,” Nappe told The Cannabist in a separate interview Friday.
“All we are saying is that we didn’t find any other reasons,” he added. “So we need to study this further.”
Nappe additionally emphasized that the word “associated” from his report with Hoyte should not be interpreted as indicating a cause and effect.
Hoyte and Nappe’s observations initially appeared in the August edition of a journal called Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine.
Case reports like the aforementioned one are significantly different from a research report or scientific study that serve as the foundation for establishing a casual relationship.
The pair’s report caused a stir on social media last week after some media reports and users who saw them jumped to conclusions about its findings.
“In states where cannabis is legalized, it is important that physicians not only counsel parents on preventing exposure to cannabis, but to also consider cannabis toxicity in unexplained pediatric myocarditis and cardiac deaths as a basis for urine drug screening in this setting,” the report states.
“As of this writing, this is the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis exposure,” the document adds.
Hoyte and Nappe’s case study theorized that the baby’s myocarditis was caused by a cannabis overdose, which then caused his heart to stop.
Both published accounts of the child’s case, however, clearly state that the autopsy died of myocarditis after the condition caused his heart to fail.