Five students at Boca Ciega High School were transported to All Children’s Hospital on Monday afternoon, April 11, after ingesting gummy worms that were coated with what authorities believe to be THC oil.
THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that causes reactions such as rapid heartbeat, disorientation, lack of physical coordination, dry mouth, hunger and sleepiness. While the drug is not generally considered harmful, some users can also suffer panic attacks or anxiety.
According to reports, one student brought the candy to school and distributed it to two others, who in turn, distributed it to four others. It is unclear if all the students ate the candy knowing about its THC qualities.
Two students complained of sickness after eating the candies. School resource officers confiscated the candies and noticed their pungent smell of marijuana. All five students who ate the candies were sent to the hospital.
Boca Ciega High School declined comment on the situation stating, “We are not commenting until the Gulfport Police Department finishes its investigation.”
As of Wednesday, April 13, three of the students who distributed the candies, two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old, are facing charges of delivering a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, which is a second degree felony according to police.
According to an update from the Gulfport Police Department on Tuesday, “Only three students will be charged criminally as they were the only ones involved with ‘delivery’ of a controlled substance. The other students will have school consequences.”
All five students have since been released from the hospital.
Gulfport Police released the names and addresses of the accused minors, in accordance with Florida law which allows, according to the Florida Bar, law enforcement agencies to “release to the public the ‘name, photograph, address, and crime or arrest report’ of a child taken into custody ‘for a violation of law which, if committed by an adult, would be a felony.’”
The law further states that “a law enforcement agency may not use age as the sole reason for not releasing the record of a juvenile felony.”
When some residents on social media criticized the release, Gulfport Police Chief Rob Vincent on Wednesday defended the department’s action, which is standard.
“I’m surprised at the public comment,” he said. “This wasn’t a spontaneous crime. They had intent. It’s a pretty serious crime.”