Ask a Stoner

Dear Stoner: Who has access to patient information?

Dear Stoner: What's up with this German study claiming that two people have died from marijuana? What's the call here?
Def J.

Dear Def J.: That study is based on some pretty circumstantial evidence: Researchers cite a couple of reports about two men in their twenties whose blood pressure increased slightly after the use of cannabis — resulting in a strain on their hearts that subsequently killed them. But we call bullshit. Marijuana doesn't stop a beating heart, nor does it halt breathing.

The major red flag here is that both men had ongoing, serious heart issues unrelated to cannabis. One had a previously undetected heart problem; the other was a meth and coke abuser. So basically, they had fragile tickers, and anything from too much aspirin to a quick walk home from the store could have killed them. Or a drink of legal alcohol, or smoke from a legal cigarette. But these researchers didn't pay attention to those possibilities in their quest for reefer madness. A recent story out of Great Britain also said that cannabis can kill, ignoring the fact that the woman who died from heart problems had also been on several prescription drugs for depression — drugs known to pose real risks to your ticker.

Bottom line: There are plenty of things that contribute to heart failure in people with related issues, and cannabis is pretty low on the list. Even the researchers admitted that their findings were mere assumptions and involved "rare, isolated cases."

Dear Stoner: I have Section 8 housing, and I also have my red card. We just got letters from the Denver Housing Authority warning us that marijuana use and possession can get us kicked out of our homes. Does this mean they will be pulling everyone's red card or going through the IDs of people who buy recreational?

Dear Shay: It's true that marijuana use and possession in Section 8 housing remains illegal even with Amendment 64, so you have to continue to be careful. However, according to the rules implementing the state's medical marijuana amendment, the only entity that should have access to any MMJ card info (including whether or not a person has one) should be the police, and then only when trying to verify the validity of an actual red card presented by a presumed patient. So no, the DHA does not have the ability to go rooting around in state databases to weed you out (pun intended). For that matter, information on recreational sales isn't kept in any state database, either, so there's no way for the agency to cross-check who is and isn't buying pot, if you want to skip the MMJ roster and go that way.

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes