Gummy candies served at a quinceañera party in San Francisco that sickened 19 party-goers reportedly contained marijuana, according to San Francisco Department of Public Health officials.
A quinceañera is a traditional birthday party for 15-year-old girls celebrated in some Latin American cultures.
As reported by CBS News, officials say that some of the patients who were hospitalized tested positive for THS, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Initial tests confirm that the candies contained THC, as stated by public health officials.
All 19 people, including a 6-year-old child, were hospitalized Saturday and released Monday.
The health department is calling those who attended the quinceañera party at the Women’s Building to ask them to throw away any uneaten candies they may have taken from the event.
The unit is interviewing people to determine if the marijuana-laced candies were served on purpose at the party to target children. Officer Grace Gatpandan said at a news conference that the offense is considered a serious crime.
Gatpandan explained that the department is not jumping to conclusions since there could have been many possible ways that the candies ended up being served at the birthday party.
“We don’t want to automatically rush the assumption that this was an intentional act,” she said.
As reported by CBS San Francisco, thirteen of the patients were 18 or younger, the youngest being 8. Three minors including a 9-year-old boy underwent treatment in intensive care units, officials said Sunday.
Raul Hernandez, a security guard who worked at the Women’s Building on Saturday night, believes that the candies were delivered via favor bags.
“These are innocent kids. They see a candy, they eat it,” he said.
He started calling 911 after guests at the party started vomiting, sweating, and having problems breathing.
“I had 21 year old who was gasping for air she could not speak,” he added.
Police did not divulge the name of the Oakland company that catered the party and served the food.
Event coordinator Olivia Herrera said the family is shocked and is still trying to “process everything that happened.”
“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 of the severity of it,” she said.
Dr. Tomas Aragon, a health officer based in San Francisco, said that the incident should serve as a warning about the dangers of cannabis edibles, especially when they are consumed by children. He also stressed how hard it is to control its dosage.
“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,” he said. “A situation like this, where they were consumed by unsuspecting people, and many children, is greatly concerning.”
Dr. Craig Smollin, the co-director of the California Poison Control Center, said that ingesting marijuana edibles isn’t fatal. The people victimized by the candies showed all the classic symptoms that come with ingesting edible cannabis, which include rapid heart rate, lethargy, confusion, and high blood pressure.
“This could have been a much worse situation than it was, and I’m glad that all the children that ingested the candy have recovered,” Mayor Ed Lee said.
Officials are finding ways to ensure that edible cannabis won’t get into children’s hands, especially on account of how they are easily served as gummy rings.
Gummy candies infused with marijuana edibles shaped like humans, animals, or fruits have already been banned in Colorado dispensaries because they attract children, the Sun Times reports.
Gov. John Hickenlopper signed the bill into law on June 10. The bill is designed to ensure that children are prevented from accidentally ingesting THC-laced gummy candies.
[Image via San Francisco Department of Health via AP]