Those Hamilton city workers who brought pot brownies to work? They're fired

Two city employees have been fired for bringing pot brownies to work, and making a co-worker ill after he unknowingly ate one.

20-year-old man had to go to hospital after unknowingly eating brownie

An investigation is underway after a man in his 20s had to be taken to hospital last month after unknowingly eating a pot brownie at work. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Two city employees have been fired after bringing pot brownies to work, and making a co-worker ill after he unknowingly ate one.

City of Hamilton public works head Gerry Davis confirmed Wednesday that the two workers were fired following an investigation.

"As of today, the two employees have been terminated," Davis told CBC Hamilton.

"What’s so critical is we have a zero tolerance policy with drug use or abuse within the city and this has been violated. Along with that, they jeopardized another employee’s health. We want everyone to go home safe at night after a day’s work. They jeopardized an employee’s life by knowingly bringing the drugs onto city property."

The incident happened around 11 p.m. ET on Dec. 22. That's when a 20-year-old man was taken from the Stoney Creek public works yard in a "code 4 life-threatening situation," said Hamilton paramedic duty officer Ben Roth.

In every group there will be bad apples — and our job is to mitigate that.- Sam Merulla, city councillor

"It was assessed as a serious situation," Roth said.

One of the men who brought the brownies to work was paired with the victim for a shift, Davis said. They were out doing regular winter maintenance work when the 20-year-old employee became ill, and they returned to the yard.

The two terminated workers have been suspended without pay since Dec. 24. 

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 5167 president Sandra Walker said she couldn't comment on the investigation "for fear of interfering with or affecting the outcome."

"The city often sends an employee home with pay pending any investigation," she said in an email.

Hamilton police also conducted an investigation, said Const. Claus Wagner, but it was concluded without charges. "There was insufficient evidence to lay charges," he said. The worker who got ill is now doing fine and is back at work, Davis said.

"In every group there will be bad apples — and our job is to mitigate that," Coun. Sam Merulla, who is also the chair of the public works committee, told CBC Tuesday.

Marijuana affects the body differently depending on if it's eaten or smoked. When it's smoked, users get high faster because THC goes directly to the brain — but if someone eats pot, it takes longer to hit them, and tends to slow motor skills in a more intense way.

Dr. Mitchell Levine, with the Centre for Evaluation of Medicines, said it’s extremely unlikely that a person could die from eating marijuana.

"The fear that can occur when you don’t know what’s happening to you can be a total panic attack," Levine said. "The reality is – someone dying from a THC overdose is almost unheard of."

Davis said the brownie episode is an isolated incident. 

"It’s very unfortunate, but it doesn’t represent City of Hamilton employees."

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly said the man became ill after eating the brownie at a potluck meal.
    Jan 13, 2015 4:52 PM ET

With files from Samantha Craggs

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