Hamish Turner, the president of the Coroners' Society, told The Telegraph that the marijuana, often portrayed as harmless, has increasingly been the cause of deaths that have been reported as accidents or suicides.
"Cannabis is as dangerous as any other drug and people must understand that it kills," said Mr Turner. "From my long experience I can say that it is a very dangerous substance. Increasingly it is mentioned not only as the first drug taken by people who overdose, but also in suicides and accidental deaths.
"It is an awful waste of young lives. People are trying the drug at a very young age. Many go on to harder drugs and I am dealing with more and more heroin overdoses. People can also suffer severe consequences from the cannabis alone, however.
"Bereaved parents say to me, 'We didn't realise how dangerous it was until it was too late, if only we had done something'. It is heartbreaking."
Turner said that stronger varieties of cannabis are now common, leading to physical and mental problems in young people, compared to the pot that was available in the 1960s.
Source: The Telegraph. "Cannabis use causes 'hundreds of deaths a year', coroner warns" February 2003.