The effects of edible marijuana have a delayed onset compared to smoking marijuana. Eating multiple servings within a short timeframe risks over-consumption, greater intoxication, and an increased risk of adverse psychological effects.
In March 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) learned of the death of a man aged 19 years after consuming an edible marijuana product. CDPHE reviewed autopsy and police reports to assess factors associated with his death and to guide prevention efforts
. The decedent’s friend, aged 23 years, had purchased marijuana cookies and provided one to the decedent. A police report indicated that initially the decedent ate only a single piece of his cookie, as directed by the sales clerk. Approximately 30–60 minutes later, not feeling any effects, he consumed the remainder of the cookie. During the next two hours, he reportedly exhibited erratic speech and hostile behaviors. Approximately 3.5 hours after initial ingestion, and 2.5 hours after consuming the remainder of the cookie, he jumped off a fourth floor balcony and died from trauma.
The autopsy found marijuana intoxication to be a chief contributing factor. Quantitative toxicologic analyses confirmed only cannabinoids. This was the first reported death in Colorado linked to marijuana consumption without evidence of polysubstance use since the state approved recreational use of marijuana in 2012.