Hospitals in Butler, Ohio, treated 24 people who ingested THC candy at a concert on Aug. 6. Police apprehended the man who distributed the marijuana-laced candy.
Concertgoers at the EST Fest music festival in Butler reported seeing a man toss packets of candy to the crowd from a backpack. The multicolored marijuana edibles, which mirrored the appearance of Nerds candy, had “Prescribed Medibles by Dr. Greenbuds” printed on the label.
News sources are unsure of how many of the 3,000 people at the concert ingested the THC-laced candies, but two dozen people sought medical help for fatigue and atypical symptoms.
At first, health professionals thought the patients suffered from an opioid overdose; however, lab tests on the candies returned a high concentration of THC, the substance responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
Law enforcement explained that those who had a bad reaction to the candy did not lose consciousness despite feeling different. In an interview with WEWS NewsChannel 5, a woman who consumed the candy said, “I kind of felt like everywhere at once, which was not a fun feeling. And then I was like twitchy. It didn’t feel right. When I couldn’t breathe, I was like, this is not good.”
She confirmed that her peers thought the candies were regular weed edibles. Each packet contained 20 small but potent pieces of candy, and some people ingested whole packets.
Matthew Gross of Ypsilanti, Michigan, was arrested in connection to the distribution of the THC candy. Police found candy packets on his person and two more packets and a marijuana-smoking device when they later searched his bag. He was charged with felony drug trafficking and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Gross was also in possession of marijuana at the time of his arrest, according to police reports. He had licenses to possess and grow marijuana in the state of Michigan. However, it is illegal to possess or distribute marijuana for non-medical purposes in both Michigan and Ohio.
At first, Gross told the authorities that he had picked the packets up off the ground. After further denying his involvement in the situation, he then said that that the product was the brand of someone he was with.
On the same weekend, 19 people at a quinceañera celebration in San Francisco got sick from consuming gummy ring candies laced with marijuana. Partygoers reported symptoms such as increased heart rate, dilated pupils, nausea, lethargy and confusion.
Health officials are investigating the origin of the marijuana-laced candy.
“A situation like this, where they were consumed by unsuspecting people and many children, is greatly concerning,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, health officer for the city and county of San Francisco.
Edible marijuana is dangerous when consumed in high doses. In March 2014, a 19-year-old student jumped off a building in Denver, Colorado, after consuming six times the recommended amount of a marijuana cookie. Marijuana intoxication was the primary contributing factor in his death, according to a 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A 2015 Forbes article stressed the importance of knowing that edible marijuana takes longer to act compared to smoked marijuana. The more an individual consumes, the greater the risks of intoxication and severe side effects such as increased anxiety or psychosis. First-time users are more vulnerable to the severe reactions.
Edible marijuana has a high potential of cross-contamination with other illicit substances due to its uncontrolled places of origin. The ingestion of multiple substances may be detrimental or even deadly to some individuals.
In an effort to mitigate the dangerous outcomes of edible marijuana, the CDC emphasizes a need to improve the labeling so that consumers are aware of the dangers of overconsumption.
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