Two University of Colorado students, Thomas Cunningham and Mary Essa, were arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault Saturday following a marijuana-related incident at the University of Colorado.
The two students are accused of bringing brownies containing marijuana into a college class and feeding them to classmates and their professor. Ryan Huff, university police spokesman, said two of the students and the professor, who ate the brownies, were hospitalized following the incident. In addition, five other students reported being ill after eating the brownies. They were suffering from the effects of tetrahydrocannibinaol (THC), according to Reuters.
"If someone views this as a prank, it's no laughing matter. These (charges) are all felonies which carry potential prison time,” Huff told Reuters.
Reports began coming Friday from parents of students from the class. The reports said, in essence, that students were taken to the hospital for a variety of physical complaints that included dizziness, anxiety and feeling faint. All three of the students that were hospitalized have been released from the hospital.
Cunningham and Essa both remain in the Boulder County jail awaiting a bond hearing. Investigators have determined that they brought the drug-laced brownies to class and fed them to their professor and classmates, who were unaware that the brownies contained marijuana.
Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana in November. Following the election, University of Colorado President Bruce Benson sent a message to all UC students clearly stating that although Colorado voters legalized marijuana, federal law still prohibits it. Federal law prohibits controlled substances on college campuses and students found guilty of possession can lose school funding.
Although the actions of these two students were irresponsible, the college has not announced plans to stop allowing students to bring food into their classes. It is important for students to understand the consequences for making bad decisions like exposing others to controlled substances.
Legalization of marijuana is a very touchy subject, and incidents like this only bring that reality to the forefront once again. The consequences of intentionally feeding a controlled substance to unaware victims are serious and these students are facing up to 12 years in prison. It is important to remember, however, that issues of legalization and doping unsuspecting individuals are not connected.
The choice of whether or not to consume drugs must be left to the individual. There are legal ramifications, potential employment consequences for a positive drug test and additional issues that must be weighed by each person prior to making decisions about using marijuana. For a professor and his students to be exposed to a controlled substance without any warning, though, is reprehensible.