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Pot Cookies a 'Significant' Factor in Tourist's Death: Coroner

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By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on April 03, 2014 3:09 PM

While marijuana is usually known for mellowing users out, a college student visiting Colorado for spring break jumped off a balcony after eating pot cookies and died, a coroner's report states.

Levy Thamba, 19, wanted to try out the "legal" pot in Colorado, investigators say. But what was slated to be a fun trip turned tragic when Thamba jumped off his hotel's fourth-floor balcony after a bad reaction to pot cookies, The Denver Post reports.

There are many legal questions yet to be answered, including whether anyone can potentially be held liable for Thamba's death.

'Marijuana Intoxication' Listed in Autopsy Report

"Pot tourism" in becoming popular in Colorado after it became the first state to open recreational marijuana shops for all eligible buyers on January 1.

Thamba's death is the first time authorities have publicly connected a death to marijuana since Colorado legalized recreational sales of pot, according to The Denver Post. Specifically, it's the first time "marijuana intoxication" from pot-laced edibles has been listed as a "significant condition" that led to a death, a coroner's spokeswoman said.

According to the autopsy report, Thamba's death was actually caused by "multiple injuries due to a fall from height" rather than ingesting the weed cookie. However, his toxicology tests for other drugs and alcohol came back negative, and he had no known history of mental issues.

Thamba's friends reported that soon after he ate the pot cookies, he started exhibiting "hostile behavior" like pulling items off the walls and speaking erratically. Although his friends apparently were able to calm him down a bit, he ended up out on the balcony where he jumped to his death, according to the Post.

Criminal Charges?

At this point, no criminal charges have been filed in connection with Thamba's death, but there certainly are questions.

For starters, a person must be at least 21 years old to purchase recreational weed in Colorado. While it's not yet clear how 19-year-old Thamba came to possess the pot cookie, it's illegal under Colorado law to sell, distribute, or transfer marijuana to minors or other individuals under 21.

So if a friend purchased the pot-infused cookies and then gave some to Thamba, then criminal charges for distributing weed to an underage person could potentially apply. Police are continuing to investigate.

Thamba was studying at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. He was originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Post.

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