A San Francisco birthday celebration took a jolting turn when 19 unsuspecting guests were hospitalized after inadvertently eating THC-laced edibles.
The party goers, 13 of whom were between the ages of 6 to 18 were reportedly suffering from a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, lethargy, and other symptoms associated with marijuana consumption.
The large family celebration packed with 15-year-olds was turned upside down as one by one, attendees succumbed to the effects of the marijuana-laced gummie candies.
Security guard Raul Hernandez was the first to notice the children were behaving strangely.
Hernandez, who called 911, believes the candy somehow made its way into the party favor bags. As of August 9, preliminary lab results were not available, however, most of the patients tested positive for THC metabolites.
Police don't know whether the incident began as a prank. "We don't want to automatically rush the assumption that this was an intentional act," Officer Grace Gatpandan of the San Francisco Police Department said at a news conference.
Event planner Olivia Herrera was shocked to learn about the events that unfolded. "There was a lot of planning that went into event and I think right now they are trying to process everything that happened and sort out the severity of it," Herrera told CBS News.
Health officials seized the opportunity to warn Californians about the dangers of accessible marijuana. “If these candies are confirmed as edible marijuana, then this event is a strong warning about the dangers of edibles, which can be very potent and hard to control dosage in the best circumstances,” Dr. Tomas Aragon, health officer for San Francisco, said in a statement. “A situation like this, where they were consumed by unsuspecting people, and many children, is greatly concerning.”
Colorado has already addressed the issue of marijuana edibles by banning marijuana-infused gummies in the shape of animals and fruit. Meanwhile, the FDA-approved fentanyl-laced lollipop Actiq continues to be a treatment of choice.
Dr. Craig Smollin, co-director at the California Poison Control Center, San Francisco branch, says ingesting marijuana-infused edibles is never fatal. Those who accidentally consume edibles are advised to simply ride it out, and eat and drink water.
Can marijuana-infused edibles cause a scary, paranoid and perhaps unwanted experience? Yes. Will it cause an overdose? Absolutely not. This is another good reason to make sure all your edibles are properly labeled and out of the reach of children and teenagers.