Five children in US hospital after 12-year-old schoolmate gave them THC-laced gummies, police say
- The child who handed out the confectionary at school now faces seven felony charges for possessing and distributing marijuana
- Other children involved will not be charged since they ‘have eaten the evidence’, police said
Several children at a Mulberry, Florida, middle school overdosed on THC-laced gummies after a 12-year-old student handed them out in class, authorities said.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office said the boy somehow acquired a package of gummies containing 100mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main mind-altering ingredient in cannabis, and gave it to six other seventh-graders during gym class at Mulberry Middle School on Thursday.
At least five of the students were transported to a hospital after experiencing stomach pain, dizziness and nausea, and Sheriff Grady Judd said one of them had “all but passed out”.
The child who handed out the gummies at school now faces seven felony charges for possessing and distributing marijuana.
Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalised the recreational use of marijuana for adults – but not in Florida, and never for children.
“We’re fortunate in that the children are all going to make a great recovery; they’re going to be all right,” Judd told reporters during a news conference. “There’s no long-term injury or illness here as we understand, but obviously we’re concerned. We’re concerned as to one, how did a 12-year-old ever come to be in possession of this drug? And two, why did he offer it to these six kids?”
In Florida, medical marijuana is legal with a prescription; but the drug is still illegal in other forms.
Judd said the edibles that sickened the Mulberry Middle School students are sold online and come in a gummy brick that is supposed to be torn into 10 adult doses in states where the product is legal. Almost the whole pack was divided among the six children, he said.
Authorities said at least five of the children consumed the gummies and it is believed the sixth child did as well.
Edibles, or food products laced with cannabis extract, have become a popular way to sell marijuana and many are sold online, but interstate transport is illegal.
The boy who handed out the gummies told investigators at least two different stories about how he got them, but said he did not eat any, the sheriff said.
It’s unclear whether he knew the gummies contained THC; but authorities pointed out that ignorance is not a defence against a crime.
The boy will be charged with one count of possession of marijuana resin and six counts of distribution of marijuana within 304 metres(1,000 feet) of a school – all felonies – as well as one misdemeanour count possession of paraphernalia, authorities said. When asked whether the other six children could also face charges, Judd said no, saying “the other kids have eaten the evidence”.
They will be dealt with by their parents and the school system, he added.
Authorities said the 12-year-old’s parents are cooperating and there is no indication they played a role in the incident. But, the sheriff said, the investigation is ongoing.
Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd urged parents to monitor their children’s activities online, including what they are buying, and to talk to their children about illegal drugs.
“We want to make sure that everyone is safe when they come to school each and every day,” the superintendent said.