A 14-Year-Old Pittsburgh Boy Didn't Die From Smoking Synthetic Marijuana, He Died From Smoking it Out of a Pez Dispenser


As much as the hodge-podge of chemicals in "synthetic marijuana" sound worse for you than the regular, extra-banned stuff, the recent grim headlines suggesting that a 14-year-old Pittsburgh boy died after smoking fake pot are not quite what they seem:

This story describes the boy's death:

The boy smoked the fake marijuana out of a plastic PEZ candy dispenser and suffered chemical burns to both lungs as a result. He was put on a respirator in June and had a double-lung transplant in September.

It takes a bit more clicking to get the a much clearer story on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's website:

Dr. J. Douglas Bricker, dean of Duquesne University's Mylan School of Pharmacy, said that although he doesn't underestimate the danger of the ingredients in the man-made designer drug, smoking synthetic marijuana in a plastic PEZ dispenser would have been a "significant factor" in Brandon's death.

"It's (the drug) fairly potent, but nothing in the literature has been shown to cause any lung toxicity," he said. But Bricker said plastic—such as that found in the candy dispenser—heated at high temperatures will release highly toxic cyanide gas and carbon monoxide.

The drug is sold on the Internet in 50- to 500-milligram packets for $25 to $75 each. The drug can cause seizures, vomiting, high blood pressure, heart problems and psychological problems such as paranoia, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Weirdly enough, these three paragraphs are near the bottom of the longer story which has a lede that still vaguely describes the death as being from "a double-lung transplant after synthetic marijuana smoked in a PEZ candy dispenser destroyed his lungs."

However much the synthetic marijuana contributed to the boy's death, we can be confident one regular joint ha never caused anyone to need a double lung transplant. Nor has weed-flavored candy.

(Mostly) Jacob Sullum on imitation speed and fake pot.

(Hat tip for the first link: the ebullient capitol l)

NEXT: Parents Heedlessly Let Kids Play With Smart Phones

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  1. Droppin’ Pez and huffin’ cyanide. These kids!

  2. I can’t believe nobody has commented on the unusual choice of adjective yet in the hat-tip.

    You assholes are falling down on the job.

    Gambol. That is all.

  3. Whoo Hoo! I’m ebullient!

    Seriously, the blatantly dishonest reporting of this story is shameful. It’s not even biased innuendo parading as fact, but instead the story is a straight up lie.

    I’m used to our local media’s duplicitous authority humping(with the exception of a local hockey announcer who makes Hobey Baker jokes and his kin), but this shit is over the top.

    1. Ebullient? More like spastic.

      Dennis Reynolds: Mac, you take the waitress. Tire her out with your spastic movements.

      Mac: I’ll tire her out with my awesome movements.

    2. You Yinzers stick together like glue.

      Still, an adjective? When you start being conferred with official titles in hat tips, then we can talk.

      1. It says The ebullient, ya know, like The king of France.

        1. Congrats! Now you know how us Buckeyes feel our entire lives.

          O-H, bitches!!!

      2. Even though you called me a yinzer (ew), I still like you.

        And with those limericks, you TRULY earned that title.

    3. What kind of monster would mock Hobey Baker? The man should be strung up. Keith Olbermann must be told!!!!

  4. But Bricker said plastic — such as that found in the candy dispenser — heated at high temperatures will release highly toxic cyanide gas and carbon monoxide.

    Someone get me a law declaring Pez dispensers as drug paraphernalia, stat!

    And Don Cannon wouldn’t have gotten the kid’s age wrong. Channel 11, you magnificent bastards.

    1. Did you ever meet Don Cannon, and was he sober?

      Me: twice, not even close.

      Years ago he actually fell into me at a bus stop downtown. He was stumbling around like Hunter Thompson on ether.

      1. They don’t make newsmen like that anymore.

        1. I don’t know, man. Ever since I got HD I’m convinced that that Stacey guy on channel two is a hard core junky. Look at his eyes one time.

          1. My old man was in a golf tourny with him once, I think. He’s like 5’2″ or something. (Solid facts.)

            1. Heroin kills the pain of being physically intimidated by Julie Bologna.

              1. Is she like the Brooke Alvarez of meteorology?

              2. I’ll show you intimidation.

      2. Orpik’s lookin pretty good out there. Looks a little wooden though.

        1. Shenanigans. Your boys lead the league in points. (The fact that they also lead the league in games played shouldn’t in any way lessen that for you.)

      3. He was stumbling around like Hunter Thompson on ether

        I’ve wondered about that. Most people who do ether learn real quick to do it seated / reclining.

        1. Once in high school a few of us were in the empty mall parking lot late at night snorting ether and a car pulled up in the row right in front of us. We put the shit on the floor and sat there all slack jawed and paranoid. The car then cuts its lights and we start freaking, “Oh shit man that lady’s a cop..” Just the the woman unzips the guy and starts givin’ him a beej.

          We started laughin so hard everyone had spit running down their faces from the decreased motor functions. In the middle of the hilarity the guy driving the car we were in flips on the headlights and the couple quickly tried to pretend to be doing something else. Needless to say we drove around their car with the high beams on beeping and screaming nonsensically out the windows. After almost hitting them we sped off through the parking lot.

          I still wonder why they parked there. Of course, you’ll say that they were exhibitionists, but why the freak out when we turned the lights on? They seemed genuinely shocked that there were people in the car in front of them.

          1. What kind of person interrupts someone getting parking lot head? This is why you were kicked off Team Stossel.

            1. Meth told me I was asked to leave because I tested positive for comment enhancing drugs.

  5. I have smoked various synthetic cannabinoids a without suffering health problems (other than what you get from putting any kind of smoke in your lungs). Luckily the State of Texas has stepped in and stopped me from attempting to comply with the law. Now on the rare occasion I have time to get high I’ll just smoke the real stuff again.

    1. By the way, the way it is typically sold is sprayed onto various herbal mixes. The same shit that you can go out and buy for herbal cigarettes. The vast majority of the smoke comes from that stuff which isn’t at all affected by these laws.

  6. It’s clear we need to regulate and preferably ban the sales of Pez dispensers.

  7. please leave the Fez dispensers alone, though.

    1. This is what I found when I googled fez dispenser:…..-34233.jpg

      1. That is quite good, and it doesn’t look fatal.

      2. I thought it was going to be a pez dispenser that gave out hats.

  8. Chemical burns to his lungs? Aaahh! Ow. Ick. And ahhhh!

    My poor virgin lungs screamed for mercy after one good inhalation of the usual, toxic chemical-free stuff. There was coughing and fumbling for water and eyes tearing up….

    Chemical burns. Yeesh.

  9. A Pez dispenser? Fuck. I remember how dumb yinzer teenagers are from when I lived among them, but Christ.

  10. I smoked that spice stuff twice. The first time, I got high for about 20 minutes. The second time I only got a headache. Never again. I will only smoke the real stuff.

  11. Whether it was the plastic that burned Brandon’s lungs or the chemicals in the Spice or a combination of the 2, we don’t know the long term effects of synthetic marijuana at this time as it has not been studied long enough and should be used with extreme caution. Brandon’s parents are suffering the loss of a child who like many, decided to experiment with what was a “legal” substance at the time.

    1. Maybe if actual marijuana was legal, he wouldn’t have used a “dangerous” substitute.

    2. It seems pretty obvious to me that bad shit will happen when you use a product for something that it’s clearly not intended to be used for. I obviously won’t blame a kid for being stupid, but playing the “think of the children” card is shameless, especially if it’s used to take attention away from bad parenting.

      It sucks what happened, but knee-jerk reactions seldom work out.

      1. r. I obviously won’t blame a kid for being stupid

        Why not? The kid was stupid.

    3. Jesus.

      So if the kid smoked catnip(what fake weed used to made of) out of the pez dispenser and died (he wold have died, as the burning plastic is what killed him) you would have us ban catnip? As far as I know there have been no long term studies on the deleterious effects of smoking catnip.

      What if an older boy had sold him grass clippings as weed, would you ban lawns?

    4. One of the long term effects of some of these compounds is reduced size of breast carcinomas, so there’s that.

  12. smoke is bad for our health, we should not smoking,especially the child

    1. I agree! We should not smoking the children!

  13. Did someone call me?

  14. Clearly they have to sue Pez, because it is well known that their products are mis-used in this fashion, and can cause harm.

    Unchain the lawyers!

  15. You say potato, I say gateway to sucking dick for crack and certain death.

  16. I almost died 7 months ago after huffing a fart in a jar that I sealed in after 2 gorditas with extra refried beans from Taco Bell. Never will I do that again.

  17. “The drug is sold on the Internet in 50- to 500-milligram packets for $25 to $75 each. ”

    Ya’ll gettin ripped off, a gram of JWH only runs about $25 for the pure stuff.

  18. “The drug is sold on the Internet in 50- to 500-milligram packets for $25 to $75 each.”
    Ya, its 5 grams for 20$ where I buy it. I wonder if I could get a job as a reporter for one of these companies. I’m not always completely full of shit but if they payed me a decent wage I could try and be as full of BS as everyone else.

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