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Northern Vietnam teen in coma after cannabis use

By Le Nga   November 15, 2021 | 03:20 am PT
Northern Vietnam teen in coma after cannabis use
A teenage boy is admitted to the National Children's Hospital in Hanoi after using cannabis. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Chi
A 15-year-old boy hospitalized in Hanoi fell into a coma after testing positive for cannabis.

The boy from the northern Tuyen Quang Province was first admitted to a provincial hospital with signs of psychosis and convulsions and later transferred to the National Children’s Hospital in Hanoi.

Chu Thanh Son, a doctor with the Hanoi hospital’s Internal Medicine ICU Department, on Monday said that doctors suspected the boy’s condition was due to substance abuse.

The boy later tested positive for a psychoactive substance in cannabis, doctors said.

The boy’s family said that he had consumed drugs with a group of friends three years ago. After the incident was handled by authorities, the parents had ensured that he has not hung out with that group since.

But about a month before he was hospitalized, he had stayed home alone for about 20 days, and the family suspects he must have used drugs then.

The principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol. Cannabis users may experience symptoms like quickened heartbeats, sweating, teary eyes, paranoia and even self-harm behavior, experts say. Long-term use may lead to heightened cancer risks, psychological disorders and other conditions, said Son.

"Severe poisoning may lead to breathing difficulties, respiratory failure, convulsions and shock, which can be life-threatening," he added.

Cannabis is on the list of narcotics forbidden in Vietnam. Those growing cannabis on a small scale can be fined VND2-5 million ($86.16-215.40). Farmers found cultivating 500 to 3,000 plants would face jail terms of six months to three years, while those working on a bigger scale could spend up to seven years in jail.

Worldwide, increasing numbers of countries and localities are legalizing medical or recreational use of marijuana, including almost 40 states in the U.S.

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