Coroner: Student who fell from Denver balcony had eaten marijuana cookie

Coroner says the student killed in a balcony fall after eating marijuana-laced cookies came to Denver because of legal sales.
By Frances Burns  |  April 3, 2014 at 12:20 PM
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An African student's death in a fall from a Denver hotel balcony is the first death in Colorado to be blamed on marijuana since the state legalized recreational use.

Levy Thamba, 19, died March 11 at a Holiday Inn. Friends said he jumped from the fourth-floor balcony after eating several marijuana cookies, a coroner's report released Wednesday said.

Thamba and his friends traveled to Denver from Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., to take advantage of Colorado's new marijuana law, Michelle Weiss-Samaras said. At least one person in the group appears to have been over 21, old enough to buy the marijuana cookies legally.

The report blamed the death on "multiple injuries due to a fall from height" with "marijuana intoxication" as a contributing factor. The coroner said Thamba died accidentally.

Thamba, also known as Levi Thamba Pongi, was from the Democratic Republic of Congo and had been an engineering student at Northwest since January.

The coroner's report said Thamba's friends described him as becoming erratic and hostile after eating the cookies. They got him into bed, but some time later he got up and went to the balcony.

The level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was above that considered proof of impaired driving in Colorado.

Michelle Weiss-Samaras, a coroner's spokeswoman, said investigators found no evidence Thamba had physical or mental problems.

"We have no history of any other issues until he eats a marijuana cookie and becomes erratic and this happens," she said. "It's the one thing we have that's significant."

Weiss-Samaras said the case is the first the coroner has investigated where marijuana was in an edible product. She said there have been a few cases of fatal car crashes where smoking marijuana was a contributing factor.

[Denver Post]

Topics: Marijuana
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