Cannabis product manufacturers are packaging edible cannabis products to resemble candy, presumably in an effort to increase sales by making edibles look more appetizing. Now, cannabis products are appearing in schools across the country, as it becomes increasingly difficult for children and teachers to distinguish cannabis products from vending machine treats.
This week, an elementary school teacher in South Carolina surrendered to authorities after being accused of having marijuana edibles in a student prize box in her classroom. The 27-year-old teacher from Lexington, South Carolina, was being held on a charge of possession of a Schedule I drug.
Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said the teacher bought a mixed bag of candy to give to her students at Rocky Creek Elementary School and two students were allowed to get a prize from the candy box on Sept. 23.
“Marijuana edibles are cannabis-based food products. They come in many forms, but the items in this case were candy,” Sheriff Jay Koon said, adding that while they looked similar to traditional candy brands in wrappers with bright colors, they are illegal in South Carolina.
According to the arrest report, one student grabbed a pack of “Stoney Patch Kids” gummies, believing they were “Sour Patch Kids” and though the teacher told the student to get something else, the child still left with marijuana edibles. The other student grabbed a lollipop.
After getting the prize, the student with the gummies went to an afterschool daycare program and asked his teacher there to help him open the pack. The teacher saw that the candy was not “Sour Patch Kids” gummies, did not open the pack, and contacted the child’s school, the deputy’s report said.
An assistant principal at Rocky Creek then found another pack of marijuana gummies in the prize bowl, and deputies found THC edibles in the teacher’s home, according to the arrest warrant.
Koon said none of the teacher’s students ate the edibles. The candy pack claims the gummies have 350 mg of THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects.
Lexington School District One officials told WIS-TV that as of Thursday, the teacher was no longer employed by the district.
“The safety of our students is our top priority,” said Superintendent Dr. Greg Little. “It is unacceptable for a staff member to potentially threaten the well-being of a child.”
Cannabis is now legal for recreational and/or medicinal use and sale in 36 states, but at the time of this report, not all these states have passed clear legislation preventing cannabis manufacturers from packaging their products similarly to candy and other snacks that would attract children, despite research suggesting THC may hinder brain development in minors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.