A couple of days ago, there was news of an elderly man who suffered from a heart attack after he had a cannabis lollipop.
According to the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, the 70-year-old man sucked on the candy and experienced frightening hallucinations and a soaring blood pressure before his heart stopped. He complained of a crushing chest pain after consuming most of the lollipop.
The patient was then rushed to St. John Regional Hospital and had narrowly escaped death.
Very potent weed lollipop
Doctors said that the lollilop was laced with more than 12 times the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in a single weed joint. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis and is what creates the high and the mind-altering effects. More specifically, the lollipop was infused with 90mg of THC, which is much larger than the 7mg that users typically ingest by smoking one joint.
The unusually large amount of THC explains why, within a few minutes of eating the candy, the patient began experiencing hallucinations and his blood pressure shot up. This then led to a spike in his stress hormones and a rapid heartbeat. The lack of blood flow to the heart eventually triggered a myocardial ischaemia, which is a particularly painful form of cardiac arrest.
Prior to the incident, the patient had already been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, a condition characterized by the hardening of the arteries. He ate a cannabis lollipop to relieve a bout of chest pain. However, he ended up experiencing a much more painful one.
After treatment and after the effects of THC subsided, the patient’s hallucinations and chest pains stopped.
Doctors warn of risks associated with THC-infused edibles
Dr. Alexandra Saunders, a cardiologist at Dalhousie University in Canada, explained that while cannabis can be useful for many patients, especially for nausea and pain relief, it does carry certain risks and side effects. Potent cannabis edibles, she said, can pose a major unrecognized risk to patients with cardiovascular disease.
She cited as an example this recent case, wherein the inappropriate cannabis dosing and oral consumption by an older patient diagnosed with stable cardiovascular disease resulted in distress, which, in turn, caused a cardiac event and subsequently reduced his cardiac function.
There is a need for more education, care, and research on how each cannabis formulation may affect and even sometimes compromise the cardiovascular health of the elderly, Dr. Saunders added.
Dr. Neal Benowitz, chief of clinical pharmacology at the University of California, also wrote in an editorial that even a moderate THC amount can produce significant toxicity in a naive user, especially an elderly one.
Dr. Benowitz said that the absorption of THC in cannabis edibles like lollipops is slow and erratic and is, therefore, harder to dose. He said that people who eat them can end up eating more before they start feeling the adverse effects.
THC, he further explained, stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, causing an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, an increase in one’s demand for oxygen, and a release of stress hormones that can constrict one’s coronary arteries. It can also cause panic, hallucinations, paranoia, and anxiety when consumed in extra high amounts.
Dr. Benowitz emphasized the importance for healthcare professionals to provide sufficient care and advice for patients to ensure optimal health care.
Cannabis lollipops sold to kids???
Now, just a word of warning for parents: The very potent lollipops have been found being sold online to kids. These sweets, appropriately called THC Suckers, are shipped from Amsterdam to the UK.