Virginia Mother Charged with Murder After Child Dies from Eating Illegal Weed Gummies
By delaying the rollout of regulated cannabis sales until 2024, Virginia has created a huge demand for black-market weed products that can be dangerous to children.
Published on October 24, 2022

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A Virginia woman has been charged with murder after her four-year-old son allegedly died from eating a jar of THC gummies. 

According to a press release from the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office, 30-year-old Dorothy Annette Clements was taken into custody last week after a local grand jury indicted her over her son's death. Clements' son died at a local hospital on May 8th of this year, two days after being admitted with serious breathing difficulties. Physicians determined that the child had a massive amount of THC in his system at the time of his death.

“Detectives believe the child ingested a large amount of THC gummies,” the sheriff's department said in a statement. “The attending doctor told Detectives that if medical intervention occurred shortly after ingestion, it could have prevented death. Statements made to Detectives by the mother did not match evidence seized at the home.”

Clements reportedly told police that her son had only eaten half of a CBD gummy. She said that she called Poison Control, who informed her that such a small quantity of CBD would not pose any serious health risk. Police discovered an empty jar of THC gummies in the house, though, and concluded that the child must have consumed a large quantity of these gummies. 

Although prohibitionists will surely twist this tragic event into an anti-cannabis scare story, they will also certainly overlook the major role that prohibition played in the child's death. Virginia voted to legalize adult-use cannabis last April, making it legal for adults to possess and use weed without threat of arrest or fines. This new law also legalizes licensed and regulated retail sales, but lawmakers chose to delay legal sales until 2024 at the earliest.

This half-assed rollout of legal sales has created a situation where adults are legally allowed to use cannabis, but have no means to access safe, regulated products. The demand for weed is therefore being met by black market products, which often contain illegal pesticides, mold, bacteria, and other toxic contaminants. And unlike legal weed products, which are always sold in child-proof packaging, most illicit weed packaging can easily be opened by children.

Most adult-use US states have followed Canada's lead in blocking legal cannabis companies from marketing their wares in a way that appeals to children. Black market pot producers are free to ignore these rules, though, and continue to sell products like Medicated Nerds Rope that completely rip off the packaging and overall appearance of regular candies. And despite numerous raids on illicit producers, these knockoff products are still readily available on the black market. 

There have been a few rare occasions in the past where children have gotten sick from accidentally eating weed edibles, but this appears to be the first death that has been conclusively linked to THC poisoning. Clements has been charged with murder and felony child neglect over her son's death, and if found guilty, she could face up to 40 years in jail on the murder charge alone. 

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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