MD Fumble

Written by Tamir Bresler

Cannabis Is Not Fatal

While it is understandable that physicians and other medical professionals display great passion in advocating for what they believe is right for their patients, it is entirely unconscionable to promote misinformation even in an informal Twitter setting.

First brought to our general attention on VICE Canada, Dr. Merrilee Brown, an emergency room doctor in rural Ontario, sent a reckless tweet that claimed cannabis, in high enough concentrations, can kill children.

Putting aside the obvious mistake in her scaling (20 grams in a single piece of chocolate?! That must be one massive chocolate bar), the implication that cannabis in any dose has the potential to be fatal to children is irresponsible and not supported by current scientific or medical knowledge.

Since the early 1930’s and until today, pro-Prohibition legislators have been searching for any possible excuse to illegalize cannabis use. They searched and searched but no matter how hard they tried they could not find a single case of cannabis use directly leading to acute toxicity and death in any patient, adult or infant. When physiological evidence failed to support their stance, they turned towards social scare tactics and Reefer Madness. Clearly, the effects of their scare are felt to this day.

Part of being a responsible physician is acknowledging when there is something you do not know, and certainly when you have made a mistake. That helps your patients trust that you are providing them with the most current and correct information at all times. It’s sad that, seemingly due to public pressure, Dr. Brown refused to back down from her unsupported position, but instead responded with irrelevant, deceptive, or low-quality sources of information.

Doctors, by virtue of their education alone, hold a special place in our society. They are educated leaders who dedicate their lives to helping others. But no doctor should ever forget that at the end of the day their therapies and their interventions are nothing without Evidence Based Medicine.

The Second Principle of EBM states that the pursuit of truth is best accomplished by evaluating the totality of evidence and not segregating those pieces of information that best suit your goals. Dr. Brown has strategically neglected to follow those core principles that help guide her profession.


Krishnan, M. (2018, August 21). We Fact-Checked an ER Doctor Who Said Weed Edibles Can Kill Kids. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vbjnam/we-fact-checked-an-er-doctor-who-said-weed-edibles-can-kill-kids

About the author

Tamir Bresler

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