A coroner has condemned claims that smoking cannabis is 'harmless' after hearing how it triggered the death of a teenager who had given up smoking the drug.
Cheshire deputy coroner Geoff Roberts said it was a misconception to think cannabis was safe to use after it directly led to the death of teenager Adie Gardner.
The 17-year-old suffered a fatal seizure in front of his father in October last year just months after quitting cannabis to take up his first ever job.
Doctors who examined the the trainee chef's body confirmed Adie had not taken cannabis in the run up to his death.
But the coroner heard how his body had been ravaged so badly by the effects of his past misuse that it killed him.
An inquest in Macclesfield, Cheshire, was told Adie had fallen victim to a 'legacy' of using the drug in the past .
Mr Roberts said: 'People use cannabis and think it is a harmless property. But we have heard clear evidence in this case that it is not.
'Very sadly this young man died as a result of the direct toxic effects on the heart that the use of cannabis had, as such it was an avoidable death.'
Mr Roberts ruled Adie's death was caused as a result of using drugs.
The coroner added the teenager had used cannabis over a period of time and that his death was all the more tragic as he had given up the drug and was turning his life around.
'This is a very sad case because despite his turbulent past and cannabis use, he had got a job as a trainee chef,' the coroner said.
'The post mortem showed no findings of recent drug use. But his body was left with a legacy of using cannabis in the past which directly led to his death.'
Adie, whose real name was Hadrian, led a 'turbulent' life taking drugs and was expelled from the former 1,000 puil Henbury High comprehensive school, the coroner was told.
The teenager had suffered a heart attack the year before his death, but had vowed to turn his life round after being offered a place on a scheme run by Cheshire Fire Service aimed at 'hard to reach' youngsters.
He visited fire stations and learned how to be good citizen before taking a 'big step forward' in taking a job as a trainee chef at Prestbury Village Restaurant.
He died in October last year on only his second day at work.
Adie's father, Robert Gardner, told the inquest he was waiting to pick his son up from the Village Restaurant when his son began to fit.
He told the hearing: 'He came out of the restaurant, crossed the triangular piece of grass and then stumbled and fell on the pavement.
'It was a bit surreal. He fitted for about ten seconds.'
Paramedics rushed to the scene but battled in vain to save him and he was later pronounced dead at Macclesfield Hospital.
Dr Mark Nicol, who treated the teenager at Macclesfield A&E, said in his report that the case was 'unique' as he had been admitted to A&E in 2007 after suffering a heart attack. On that occasion, doctors were able to revive him.
Dr Nicol said, 'Drug problems were acknowledged at that time. This case highlights that Cannabis is potentially life threatening.
Dr Sally Hales, who carried out the post mortem, said in her report to the coroner that there were no traces of cannabis or other illegal drugs in Adie's body when he died.
Dr Hales examined the heart and concluded the teenager had myocarditis - an inflammation of the heart.
She said 'a history of using cannabis, amphetamines and cocaine would appear to be the most likely cause' of the teenager's death.
After the inquest, Adie's former boss at the Prestbury Village Restaurant paid tribute to the youngster.
Manager Rick Palmer said: 'He was a nice lad who worked hard. He was reliable, no trouble and good to work with. His death was a total shock to us all.'
July 1, 2009
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