Getty

The loss of a child is the worst thing a parent can go through. It can lead to many reactions, grief being the most palpable. But often it also leads to something else: a search for answers. Why would someone so young lose their life so early in its span? Sometimes the answer is easy to ascertain, things like car accidents and drug overdoses are causes that are easy to see. But when the cause is unknown, it can make an already unbearable situation even harder to handle.

A good example of this is the death of Michael Ziobro, who was only 22 when his mother Kristina found him unconscious on his bedroom floor. An ambulance was called, but all efforts to revive Michael went for naught. Michael was gone.

“Medical grade” marijuana was found in Michael’s room and in his blood. And without any evidence whatsoever to back up her claim, Michael’s mother blamed cannabis. “He was such an advocate [for marijuana],” Kristina said. “He thought it was wonderful. He thought it was safe. He just thought it was natural and organic and it ended up killing him.”

Kristina claims that Michael’s marijuana use lead to a heart arrhythmia, which lead to his death. And even though there have been some studies showing that cannabis use can increase the heart rate of the user, the medical examiner that did the autopsy on Michael could not make the determination that Kristina was right about the cause of Michael’s death.

“Although there is scarce research that indicates smoking cannabis can evoke cardiovascular complications, one is unable to attribute the ‘Cause of Death’ was due to smoking cannabis,” Union County Medical Examiner Dr. Junaid Shaikh said in a letter to New Jersey state Senator Thomas Kean after Michael’s family asked for the state legislature to get involved. “In my opinion, it is highly warranted that family members consult a geneticist and possibly consider cardiovascular genetic testing for hereditary causes of cardiac arrhythmia,” Shaikh added.

While I’m certainly not a doctor, one has to wonder: if marijuana can lead to deaths like this and has been used for thousands of years, why haven’t more people died in a similar way? While it’s true that marijuana is more potent now, it is also true that those who oppose legalization will promote any story that they think shows the dangers of cannabis. So where are all those stories?

Parents who lose a child can be forgiven for searching for answers, but making claims about a medicine that millions of people use every day without a shred of proof is irresponsible at best, no matter what the reason.