HealthDay News — U.S. health officials recently revisited the first reported marijuana-linked death in Colorado since voters there legalized recreational use of the drug in 2012.

A young man leapt to his death last year after consuming an entire marijuana-laced cookie, the new government report shows. The 19-year-old had no other drugs in his system at the time, health officials noted. He first ate a single piece of the cookie, as instructed by a sales clerk, but then consumed the rest within an hour because he didn’t feel any immediate effects, according to the case report published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Two and a half hours later, the young man jumped off a fourth floor balcony after exhibiting erratic speech and hostile behavior, and died from his injuries. An autopsy found that the young man had a blood level of 7.2 ng/mL of tetrahydrocannabinol. The legal limit for driving under the influence in Colorado is 5 ng/mL. The young man had never used marijuana before, and had no history of alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, or mental illness, according to the police report. The autopsy revealed no other drugs in his system.

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Marijuana edibles take longer for the body to process, which leads to delayed but longer-lasting intoxication. A person unfamiliar with this may end up eating too much, since they don’t immediately feel the effects, the authors of the report noted.

“It’s a significantly delayed effect,” report author Jessica Hancock-Allen, an epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC, told HealthDay. “The average blood serum peak of THC is about two hours for eating, while it’s 5 to 10 minutes for smoking. It’s quite different from smoking.”


1. Hancock-Allen J, et al. MMWR. 2015; doi: 64(28);771-772