Cannabis body packers

November 20, 2011, 11:38 pm


Cannabis body packing: Two case reports. Spadari M et al. Clin Toxicol 2011;49:862-864.


Cases of body packing usually involve ingestion of packets containing heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine.  Although packers who ingest cannabis packets are dealing with a much less dangerous drug, they are still susceptible to serious adverse effects. This French paper presents two case reports:

  1. A 26-year=old man came to the emergency department after swallowing 50 condoms filled with cannabis two days before. On exam he was drowsy but had stable vital signs. An abdominal x-ray showed multiple drug packets in the colon. After he was given sorbitol as a cathartic, the patient eliminated all the packets and was discharged on the third hospital day.
  2. A 45-year-old man presented to the emergency department with abdominal pain and fever. His physical examination was unremarkable except for abdominal tenderness. CT scan showed multiple foreign bodies in the colon as well as 3 in the abdominal cavity, along with free peritoneal fluid. Laparotomy confirmed the diagnosis of colon perforation with peritonitis. During surgery, drug packets were removed from the peritoneum and the colon. Toxicological tests on the packets and specimens of the patient’s blood and urine confirmed the presence of cannabis.

The authors note that cases of body packing involving cannabis are rare, and when adverse events occur they are mechanical rather than toxicologic. Volvulus, ileus, obstruction, and perforation have all ben reported. There have been two fatal cases described in the literature.


Related posts:

Treatment protocol for symptomatic body packers (mules)

Cocaine mules: what to do with body packers

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