Mother Allegedly Becomes First British Woman To Die From Cannabis Poisoning

By McCarton Ackerman 02/03/14

Despite overwhelming evidence that marijuana has medical benefits, the British media has hyped Gemma Moss' death into a cause célèbre.

Gemma Moss Photo via

According to reports, a mother of three has become the first woman in Britain to allegedly die from cannabis poisoning.

Gemma Moss, 31, smoked half a joint in her bed last October and was found unresponsive in bed the following morning before being pronounced dead at the scene. A coroner confirmed that moderate levels of the drug were in her system and the death was ruled as cannabis toxicity.

Moss was a regular pot smoker at one point, but had stopped for two years before her death, all without ever suffering cannabis toxicity. She had started up again shortly before her death after becoming depressed and anxious after breaking up with her boyfriend. Her friend Zara Hill told police that Moss had smoked up to $120 worth of pot per week, although her family disputes this claim. Her mother, Kim Furness, acknowledged that the mother-of-three told her in phone conversations that she had begun smoking again, but didn’t believe it was done excessively.

David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance said he believed it was possible to die from pot smoking alone. “It has often been said that cannabis doesn't cause death. Users usually pass out before they can take enough cannabis to kill them. This case serves as a warning that cannabis can cause immense harm,” he said. "Cannabis is known to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Cannabis these days is designed to be much stronger than cannabis used in the sixties to meet demand of users who want a stronger hit."

However, Raynes acknowledged that he not had previously come across a death that was solely related to cannabis smoking, although he had seen deaths where pot was combined with alcohol or other drugs. The only other known cannabis toxicity death in Britain came in 2004 and involved a 36-year-old man from Pembrokeshire.

Meanwhile, pot advocates outright dismissed the toxicology report. “Tragically, spontaneous cardiac arrest does occur in apparently healthy people,” said Peter Reynolds, leader of the advocacy group Cannabis Law Reform. “Cannabis is the least toxic therapeutically active substance known to man".

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.