Florida Middle School Student Faces Felonies After Sharing Marijuana Gummies

By Zachary Stieber

A Florida middle school student is facing multiple felony charges after allegedly sharing marijuana-infused gummies with other children at the school.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said deputies seized the illegal gummies at Mulberry Middle School on Nov. 29.

Officials said the 12-year-old, 7th-grade student, Leviticus Jones, shared the THC-infused candy with at least six other 12-year-olds. Five of them were rushed to a hospital after getting sick.

The sheriff said in a statement that detectives are investigating the situation and criminal charges are pending against the student who brought the gummies to school and shared them.

“We have long been concerned about the dangers of marijuana-infused candy and that it would get into the hands of, and poison, children. Here’s an example of that,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.

Judd said that the most frightening thing about the situation was how the candy is clearly marketed toward children.

“So what did we end up with? We ended up with six 12-year-old children who overdosed on Green Hornet gummies full of marijuana. That’s right, they were stoned, they got very sick. Five of them were transported to the hospital by ambulance,” Judd told Fox News.

He also said Jones who was responsible for the ordeal knew what he was doing.

“It wasn’t an accident at all. He knew exactly what it was,” Judd said. “He’s given us two or three stories about how he came upon this complete package, but he told another buddy, ‘I’m taking it to school to sell it.'”

The back of a package of gummy candies infused with THC, the prominent psychoactive chemical component in marijuana, seized in Polk County, Fla., at a middle school on Nov. 29, 2018. (Polk County Sheriff)

Marijuana Illegal in Florida

Unless a person has a state-issued medical card, possessing or using recreational marijuana, including THC-infused gummy candies, is illegal in Florida.

Edible products such as the candies are currently not available for those with a medical card.

Jones faces seven felony charges, six counts of distribution within 1,000 feet of a school, and one count of possession of cannabis resin, Judd said at a press conference, reported The Ledger.

He also faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd commended school staff for acting quickly.

“They followed through with the procedures and protocols we have in place in making sure that we keep our children safe,” Byrd said.

“What I want to say to parents is everyone at school today is still safe, they will be safe again tomorrow, they are going to be safe throughout because we do have procedures in place to keep children safe.”

Marijuana plants
Marijuana plants are for sale at Harborside marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif., on Jan. 1, 2018. (Mathew Sumner/AP Photo)

Research on Candies

Gummies infused with THC and other edibles have been subjected to little research and can leave users confused on how much to actually ingest, according to researchers.

In a study called “Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles,” published in early 2017, researchers wrote: “The most prominent difference between ingestion and inhalation of cannabis extracts is the delayed onset of drug effect with ingestion. Consumers often do not understand this aspect of edible use and may consume a greater than intended amount of drug before the drug has taken effect, often resulting in profoundly adverse effects.”

One of the challenges listed by the researchers is that cannabis causes severe behavioral impairment, with 65 percent of medicinal cannabis users experiencing adverse effects such as cardiac stress, vomiting, and anxiety.

Many of the reported cases involve edibles such as gummy candies. While smoking or vaping marijuana brings THC to the brain within minutes, the candies can take up to 90 minutes to be felt, prompting some to eat additional candies when they don’t feel anything for a while.