British Mother ‘Poisoned’ To Death By Pot
A mother-of-three is believed to have become the first woman in Britain to die directly from cannabis poisoning.
Gemma Moss, a 31-year-old churchgoer, collapsed in bed after smoking a cannabis cigarette that led her to have moderate to high levels of the class B drug in her system.
Tests of her vital organs found nothing wrong with them although it was suggested she might have suffered a cardiac arrest triggered by cannabis toxicity.
Miss Moss' death was registered as cannabis toxicity and a coroner recorded a verdict of death by cannabis abuse.
Deaths directly from cannabis are highly unusual. In 2004 a 36-year-old man from Pembrokeshire became the first person in the UK to die from cannabis toxicity.
David Raynes, of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: "It is extremely rare and unusual for a coroner to rule death from cannabis abuse.
"In 40 years I have never come across deaths from cannabis alone. There have been cases where it has been combined with other drugs or alcohol.
"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.
"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."
Miss Moss, a devout Christian, had frequently used cannabis during her adult life but had stopped for two years before her death last October.
She started using it again to help her sleep after becoming depressed and anxious due to breaking up with her boyfriend.
An inquest heard Miss Moss smoked half a joint a night to help get her to sleep.
Her friend, Zara Hill, said she and Miss Moss smoked about £20-worth of cannabis together in the week before her death.
Miss Hill told police that Miss Moss smoked as much as £60 pounds-worth of the drug a week, although this was disputed by her family.
On the night of October 28 2013 Miss Moss, who had two sons, Tyler, 15, and Tessiah, eight, and a daughter, went to bed after rolling a joint.
She was found unresponsive in bed the following morning by Chloe Wilkinson, the girlfriend of Miss Moss' teenage son.
She summoned an ambulance to the flat in Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset, but Miss Moss was pronounced dead at the scene.
Half of a joint was found underneath her body and a wrapper containing brown and green leaves of the class B drug was discovered in her handbag.
A post mortem examination revealed that there were no obvious signs of abnormality in Miss Moss' body.
But Dr Kudair Hussein, a pathologist, told the inquest in Bournemouth, that there were moderate to heavy levels of cannabinoids in her blood.
He said: "The physical examination and the examination of various organs including the heart and the liver showed no abnormality that could account for her death.
"The level of cannabinoids in the blood were 0.1 to 0.15 milligrams per litre, this is considered as moderate to heavy cannabis use.
"I looked through literature and it's well known that cannabis is of very low toxicity.
"But there are reports which say cannabis can be considered as a cause of death because it can induce a cardiac arrest."
Mr Sheriff Payne, the Bournemouth coroner, asked Dr Hussein: "You are satisfied it was the affects of cannabis that caused her death."
Dr Hussain replied: "Yes sir."
The inquest heard Miss Moss grew up in London but moved to Bournemouth about five years ago.
She was said to have changed her lifestyle and found faith since relocating to the south coast.
She regularly attended the evangelical Citygate Church in Bournemouth and was baptised there.
Her mother, Kim Furness, told the inquest her daughter struggled to sleep and had admitted that she had started smoking a "small amount" of cannabis at night.
Miss Furness said: "For years she smoked it [cannabis] every day.
"When she moved to Bournemouth she stopped for two years and then had a break up with her relationship and started again.
"It was one half of a joint to get to sleep. She never smoked in the day.
"She was really honest about cannabis because from where we come from its normal to smoke cannabis. She was trying to stop again.
"She rang me and said 'mum, I have just started again, I will stop but I needed half to get to sleep'.
"She said she would go to the doctors to get something to help her sleep to stop her doing it.
"She wasn't excessively smoking."
Detective Inspector Peter Little read a statement from Miss Hill.
She also said Miss Moss was stressed about her benefit money being stopped and because her son had been excluded from school.
In recording a verdict that Miss Moss died from drug abuse, Mr Payne said: "Gemma had been a long term user of cannabis.
"She suffered from depression and was on prescription drugs to try and deal with that although it would not appear she was taking them at the time of her death.
"She usually used it [cannabis] in the evenings to try and help her to get to sleep and did not use it in the day time.
"The post mortem could find no natural cause for her death.
"With the balance of probability that it is more likely than not that she died from the effects of cannabis"
Carolyn Stuart, coroner's officer, said: "It is very rare to have cannabis toxicity as a cause of death.
"She was a healthy 31-year-old woman who had nothing wrong with her."
Russell White, a leader at the Citygate Church, said: "Gemma was a good mother and brought up her children mainly on her own.
"She was full of fun and loved life and loved coming to church. She was a committed member of the church and brought her children along.
"I think she came from a difficult background but she I think she was clean to a large degree in terms of drugs.
"She is very much missed and her death was a real shock to us."
Miss Moss lived with her two sons but it is believed her daughter lived with her father in Jamaica.
In October 2013 Miss Moss posted on her Facebook page about how excited she was about travelling to the Caribbean to visit her daughter over Christmas.