After 19-year-old Levy Thamba inexplicably leapt to his death off a 4th floor balcony in March after eating a cookie with marijuana, public health officials have been scrambling to figure out why. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- based on the autopsy, police reports and interviews with the sales clerk and the friend who gave him the cookie -- provides a detailed timeline of the events:
A 23-year-old friend purchases the cookie. It contains a label that notes that "This marijuana product has not been tested for contaminants or potency." It also lists inactive ingredients as well as the active ingredient: "65 mg THC/6.5 servings." THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive agent in cannabis that gives the "high" that many users are seeking.
The sales clerk instructs the buyer to divide the cookie into sixths, with each piece containing approximately 10 mg of THC and to ingest one serving at a time.
The friend gives the cookie to Thamba, who police described as "marijuana-naive" with no known history of alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, or mental illness. He initially eats just one piece.
Approximately 30-60 minutes later, the teen -- "not feeling any effects" -- consumes the rest of the cookie.
During the next two hours he exhibits erratic speech and hostile behaviors.
About 3.5 hours after first taking a bite of the cookie and 2.5 hours after he ate the rest, Thamba jumps off the balcony and dies from trauma.
A toxicology report finds 7.2 ng/mL of THC in his blood but nothing else other than an inactive marijuana metabolite -- making the teen's death the first in the state that involves only marijuana. The legal limit in Colorado for driving a vehicle is 5.0 ng/mL.
The marijuana store that sold the cookie voluntarily gave all 67 remaining cookies to the police and tests confirmed they were within required limits.
The CDC warned in its report that "because of the delayed effects of THC-infused edibles, multiple servings might be consumed in close succession before experiencing the 'high' from the initial serving, as reportedly occurred in this case."
"Although the decedent in this case was advised against eating multiple servings at one time," the CDC said, "he reportedly consumed all five of the remaining servings of the THC-infused cookie within 30-60 minutes after the first serving, suggesting a need for improved public health messaging to reduce the risk for overconsumption of THC."