Edibles blamed for Edgartown overdoses

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Edibles that include THC, the main ingredient in cannabis, are being blamed for an incident in Edgartown that resulted in three people being taken to the hospital.

Updated May 20

Three people were taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Friday night after overdosing on edibles containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main ingredient in cannabis, Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee said.

Police and emergency medical crews were called to the Newes restaurant just after 8 pm, McNamee said. According to the police report, a 911 call was made after a 60-year-old woman “fainted” inside the Newes. When police arrived, they observed two females and one male on the floor.

The man was in and out of consciousness, according to the report. One of the women collapsed into the officer’s arms after he lightly tapped on her shoulder asking her to move so he could assist the other woman, the report states.

The three people were all visiting for the weekend from Pennsylvania, McNamee told The Times. Their names and ages were redacted from the report.

One of the women regained consciousness and told first responders it was the first time any of them had tried edibles.

“15 milligrams … THC … edible … all three… first time,” the woman told the officer.

“We all knew this was coming,” McNamee said, referring to the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts.

The overdoses come just one day after the M.V. Youth Task Force and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Connect to End Violence sponsored a talk by Dr. Ruth Potee at the MVRHS library on “The Physiology of Addiction: Effects of Drug-Taking Behavior on the Adolescent Brain.” McNamee said he was at the presentation where Dr. Potee warned about a “spike in overdoses because of edibles.”

“The candy bars have six to eight servings,” McNamee said, “but no one takes one bite of a candy bar and puts it away.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, while a fatal overdose from marijuana use is unlikely, it’s not harmless. Overuse can cause “extreme confusion, anxiety, paranoia, panic, fast heart rate, delusions or hallucinations, increased blood pressure, and severe nausea or vomiting.”

Updated to include more details from the police report – Ed. 

39 COMMENTS

  1. Time to stop cramming 8 doeses into a single candy bar wrapper.

    As the saying goes, you can’t fix stupid. One dose per sealed package ought to be the law. This could have been easily prevented if not for greed.

    • You do realize that won’t stop someone from eating 8 of those, right? And please remember that the items with more doses per unit are cheaper per dose. Banning these will greatly impact the patients who have trouble affording this already. Think of the patients.

  2. Please do some homework. Pot is now laced with fentanyl. Most drugs Are. Fentanyl is addictive so the dealers our island refuses to prosecute lace the drugs with fentanyl. Wake up

    • public trust— hardly worthy replying to this unfounded, unverified and unverifiable bubble gum wrapper conspiracy drivel.
      But, you have baited me– I have a simple request– could you somehow give us some evidence about this claim ? And while you are at it, please thank the editor of this paper for keeping me somewhat civil..

    • I fact checked with SNOPES…Fentanyl-laced marijuana use is a real and growing concern in the United States. is FALSE. Read it . The people who od were using opiates too.

  3. ok– some tourists come here from a state that chooses not legalize cannabis , and they “overdose” on edibles. They are adults–never ate this stuff — If they had never seen a bottle of vodka and drank a half gallon each, they might have died. But, they got really high. and needed some help. Let me point out they were never in any danger of dying from too much thc.. Yes, if they had tried to drive home– big problem– if they went to the airport and tried hitch hiking on the runway, big problem. But, this is a case of ignorant people ( i use ignorant in it’s proper usage) doing inadvisable things. As it turned out, they are all fine, a bit embarrassed, I am sure, but ok. I hope they get a bill from the emt’s — and from the News for that matter–
    And I agree with cjbh… You would think that after all the years and all the legislation surrounding this issue, the no brainer regulation should be one edible, one high..
    Most of the other regulations are just plain stupid.

  4. The problem with edibles is the length of time it takes to feel the effects of the thc, unlike smoking or vaping where the effects are immediate and controlling the dose is much easier. Inexperienced users may think when they feel little or nothing after 20 minutes that they need more. Then it hits them hard. Dondon is right, no one is going die from an overdose of thc, but stoned out people lying on the floors of restaurants is fuel for the anti-pot lobby. Not to mention the little kids finding candybars or gummies in the cupboard.

    • stbg You are quite correct about the lag time. I know this from personal experience. You bring up excellent points.

  5. Lots of addictive drugs are laced with Fentynal and sooner or later pot will be. It is naive to think that dark forces trying to undermine us do not exist.
    A public that wants a high will move from pot to another stronger high. Always does. Stop protecting pot as harmless in a country that has a huge addict crisis. I don’t care if 60’s hippies now smoke pot. I care about 15 year olds whose brains are not yet formed.

    • andrew– get real sometime– quit making things up. This comment seems to top even your most outrageous untruths.
      And let me remind you that 100 % of drug addicts and god addicts started out drinking milk .

      • Interestingly enough we were told that pot is now being laced with fentynal at the narcan training recently held at the high school. Are you saying it’s completely not true?

      • dondondon just exactly what did I make Up? help me please. That pot will be laced sooner or later. You know with certainty that it wont?That people dont graduate to stronger highs? Which one is outrageously untrue?

        • andrew– both of your questions are either untrue or speculative–
          You claim that pot will be laced sooner or later–that is total conjecture. You treat it as fact. Let me hold you to your comment —“pot will be laced sooner or later”— and then you challenge me to prove otherwise.
          You make a speculative statement and then ask me to prove otherwise–
          ok let’s play that game–I will state that sooner or later
          right wing republican senators will pass a law to kill all Muslims– Do you know with certainty that hey won’t ?
          Next one “A public that wants a high will move from pot to another stronger high. Always does. ” That one is outrageously untrue also..
          Do you know with certainty that everyone who smokes pot at the age of 15 eventually winds up as a junkie on the street by the age of 25 ? You seem to be implying that– both of your statements are outrageously untrue– even 5th graders could shred your argument in any kind of middle school debate.

          • I will state with certainty that because pot is looked at so casually that MV will suffer more addictions and more suffering from drugs in the future. You can parse all you want and attempt illogical juxtapositions but drugs of all kinds just like alcohol are net negative for a society. Your summary of my comments is stunningly oblique.

          • dondondon. Jackies comment below about why society needs to get high is correct and her giving you at least two examples of pot laced with Fentynal is also correct. What is your response now?

    • Objection over-ruled. Some of the smartest people I know are 60’s hippies. Then again, I am one, so maybe I just can’t remember…

    • 3d —the 60’s hippies had brains — they ended an unjust war– they put the word ” environment” into the public consciousness, and saw to it that people of color had a shot at the American dream. As those “60’s hippies”have aged, they have pushed a consumer economy to record levels, kept us for the most part out of wars, ( don’t blame hippies for Iraq) and have brought us inventions such as the internet and the cell phone. Perhaps you should look a little closer at what a “formed brain” is .

  6. None of these comments have any real “umph” since no one is truly owning them by identifying themselves. It’s not unlike calling the police from someone else’s phone to report a crime, but hanging up when they ask your name.

    As those old Bud Light commercials used to say, “Real American Heroes…”

    • Mr Whitaker are you saying that things are only true if they are a function of someone who is not anonymous?

      • I’m saying that regardless of the integrity of what’s being said, it loses an element of respect because of the anonymity. Just my personal peeve…

    • Ray– I am sure it’s comforting for you to identify yourself– i am Don Keller a V.H. resident– d k don don don @ g mail . com
      so– does my comment have more “umph” now — ?
      get over it — this is a forum where you don’t have to identify yourself— it’s great that you do– i have no problem identifying myself, but for you to criticize people who wish to have some privacy about their opinions is pretty shallow—

  7. As a long time visitor to the Vineyard and as a Colorado native, I can tell you this is natural and bound to happen, especially with people who have never eaten an edible. For the first couple years, out-of-state people would come to Colorado and try an edible for the first time, ending up in a hospital visit or freak out. Debased, and and just out right ridiculous claims that fentanyl is being laced in edibles shouldn’t even be focused on. Instead I think it would be good for public awareness about how to correctly and responsibly take edibles, as there are billboards in Colorado explaining how to take them because of this exact scenario.

    One, edibles are MUCH stronger than smoking cannabis and take a longer time to actually kick in. that is why people tend to “overdose” because they are expecting an instant high, it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours for an edible to kick in depending on a person’s metabolism. so when taking it, start out small and wait for a while and after two hours of not feeling anything maybe consider taking another small dose.

    Two, mixing alcohol and edibles is definitely a NO, these two substances both being suppressants and also cannabis’ psychoactive properties will cause people to freak out and loose control. you never mix the two unless you know what you are doing and aren’t a complete rookie with these sorts of things.

    Third, and most important, cannabis when consumed is absorbed by the fat in your body, so thus if you eat really fatty foods while taking edibles the effects are going to be much more stronger than just eating the required dosage of the edible, drinking water and eating lightly or non-fatty foods. Most edibles, if they are sold at a cannabis store, in which they must be a registered company will have all the instructions and dosages on the wrapper. Most candy bars, if not home made, contain around 90-120mg of THC thus meaning for beginners you should eat at most TWO small squares or pieces of the candy bar, not the whole thing. Be informed, be responsible and people, do your research before you just jump head first into these things. It’s not cannabis’ fault that people made poor and uninformed decisions for their first time, but this is how lessons are learned.
    Also, you cannot “overdose” on edibles in the sense of how you can with alcohol or other drugs. you may feel like you’re dying, but you’re not going to die. Just drink some water, lay on the couch with your eyes closed and listen to some calm music (Pink Floyd) and you will eventually coax yourself out of a freak out. the worst that can happen is getting sick, and i know this first hand from taking a 200mg edible here in Colorado. No need to go to the hospital unless your are having an allergic reaction to the ingredients in an edible.
    EDIBLES ARE MUCH STRONGER THAN SMOKING CANNABIS.

    • This is why there is danger in all cannabis being banned again. Don’t add fuel to the fire. If you want to eat pot, make it yourself. Then you can’t blame the industry.

  8. Here is the ultimate issue. Pot can be deadly when combined with driving or biking or swimming, much like alcohol. The undereducated really need to understand that pot can have side effects just like any other drug. Many people react differently and we really aren’t prepared for it. Accidents will go way up, and all those that decry alcohol and praise pot, be warned that you reap what you sow!

  9. It says so much that no one expresses any problem with getting high in order to enjoy life, relax, be in the moment, have a good time. Decriminalizing pot was important because medically it is so helpful to many who suffer certain conditions. But the idea that life’s beauty and moments of enjoyment can be enhanced by getting high is a sad commentary on what has become so socially acceptable as a way to spend leisure time. The only purpose of edibles is to get high. What a world when being high is a normal, acceptable part of being alive. And there will always be people who are nibbling an edible to go to a business meeting, get to a class, pick up the kids, cut your grass, and paint your house, just as there are those who take nip of alcohol to do the same, you know, just to take the edge off.

    • you’re right that it was a good idea to decriminalize marijuana for medical use. However, it’s not true that “the only purpose of edibles is to get high”. Many who benefit from medical cannabis need to take their medicine in an ingestible form – including my (now deceased) 15 year-old arthritic dog.

      • My mistake, Jane. I thought the part that makes you high was removed from the ingested medicine. I was wrong about that. But the gaining broad acceptance of getting-high-for-fun remains a disturbing commentary on our culture. I’m very sorry you lost your dog.

        • Thanks Jackie – I believe it depends on what strain of cannabis is used. There are hundreds of varieties and some do have enough THC to make one high, but also may be necessary in some degree to activate all the other compounds that relieve pain, anxiety, or whatever the problem is. I wonder how much discussion your question about changing cultural attitudes would engender in the MVTimes? Islanders might get so engrossed we completely ignore the next roundabout, SSA, or golf course maelstrom! (Just kidding – there’s no new roundabout proposed).

          Intention is important – sounds like these weekend warriors weren’t trying to do anything but get high. Conversations like this can educate, inform, and encourage people to learn how to prevent harm from overuse and accidental ingestion by kids – and increasingly – pets. Thank you for your condolences. He lived a good life.

  10. I find this story suspect. Given that cannabis affects everyone differently, the likelihood that three people, each consuming only 15 mg of THC, would all end up unconscious on the floor is extremely small.

    This feels more like a little drama attempted by prohibitionists to slow the logical and reasoned move to a regulated cannabis industry by fueling irrational fears.

    Chief McNamee is clearly another public offical who has not bothered to update his understanding of cannabis with what we now know to be true today. His “grasping at straws” arguments like “no one eats one bite of candy” and “we all knew this was coming” are laughable.

    First of all, everyone who doesn’t want to “overdose” on cannabis will only eat one bite and put the rest away. It’s called being a responsible adult. Nobody with any common sense is sitting around thinking, “ooh, I’d really like to eat a candy bar, so let me eat an entire cannabis infused one even though I was told to only eat one square”. People eat the cannabis infused chocolate for the desired effect. Responsible people will learn and understand what an appropriate dose is.

    Secondly, the repeal of prohibition did not create this problem. Cannabis has never gone away, it has always been there. There have always been people eating more edibles than they should but it wasn’t newsworthy until now. The fact is a regulated market will make it less likely for this to happen, assuming people aren’t too stupid to follow clear instructions.

    If they had purchased their cannabis at a regulated shop, the dosages would have been clearly listed and every dispensary in the state advises their customers on safe usage. If they bought it from the unregulated market they would have no way to know if what they took was 15 mg or 5 mg or 25 mg (or if it had pesticides or other chemicals which could also have contributed to their negative reactions).

  11. @jiggyjack, are you some sort of expert pothead? Chief McNamee is right and YOU are wrong. Its not his job to explain the proper ingestion of drugs to some recreational user seeking to get high, who, upon not feeling the immediate effects desired decided to eat the whole candy bar. Your analogy of purchasing at a regulated shop with listed dosages is like telling someone passed out with a bottle of booze that the alcohol content is ‘on the label’. Too late!

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