Man's death not due to pot: Anutin

Man's death not due to pot: Anutin

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has told Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt that a man who died after taking marijuana did not die because of the drug.

Mr Anutin said he clarified with the governor that the 51-year-old man died of heart failure which was not brought on by cannabis use.

"We need to think about the feelings of his relatives when people say the cause of death was a cannabis overdose when it wasn't -- it was heart failure," Mr Anutin said.

"At the Public Health Ministry, we see the importance of every life. Our policy to decriminalise cannabis from the narcotic list is to help people, not to hurt them," he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Chadchart said City Hall was concerned about the ramifications of the liberalisation of cannabis.

The governor said that four patients who developed adverse reactions after taking cannabis were admitted to hospitals under the supervision of City Hall's medical service department.

One of them -- the 51-year-old man who Mr Anutin said he died of heart failure -- was pronounced dead at Charoenkrung Pracharak Hospital on Tuesday.

Mr Chadchart said that on the same day, the man had overdosed on cannabis, sparking alarm among the public.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people cannot overdose on cannabis in the way they can on opioids.

Mr Chadchart more recently said an autopsy is needed to understand the real cause of the man's death.

Asked whether the ministry conduct a probe if a similar death takes place again, Mr Anutin said staff would and do so while complying with the law.

He said Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, has set up a panel to monitor adverse conditions among people due to cannabis use.

City Hall will also instruct children on the pros and cons of cannabis use and will launch measures to make schools free of cannabis, Mr Anutin added.

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