RCMP investigate after 7 children consume cannabis candies at Sackville school
Parent questions school officials' silence about the incident
New Brunswick RCMP are trying to find out how a girl in Grade 5 got hold of cannabis candies, which were then consumed by seven children at school Wednesday.
Sgt. Eric Hanson of the Sackville detachment said the students, aged 10 and 11, consumed the cannabis candies after the girl brought them to Marshview Middle School.
Hanson did not say if the children knew the candies contained THC. He said the candies were not legal Cannabis NB products.
Some of the students began to feel ill, he said. Once the school learned what happened, the principal called their parents and sent all seven students to hospital.
None had to be admitted to hospital, and they were at home later, Hanson said.
"No serious injuries or effects to report," he said Thursday. "All children are doing fine today."
The Anglophone East School District would not speak to CBC News about the incident at Marshview, which has students in grades 5 through 8.
The RCMP are now investigating where the girl found the candies, who bought them, and where that person bought them. Any cannabis product that is not bought at a federally licensed facility, which in New Brunswick is only Cannabis N.B., is illegal.
Hanson said it's too early to say what the possible outcome of the investigation could be.
"It would depend on what the investigation reveals," he said. "Charges could possibly be an outcome. It depends on the totality investigation, whether things were done willingly or not.
"We need to speak to a few people first, and find out exactly where they came from and under what circumstances they were obtained."
Shoshanna Wingate, a parent of a Grade 5 student at Marshview, said her biggest concern after the incident was the "radio silence" from the school.
She said no note was sent home to parents, and the students only heard about the incident from talk on the playground.
Wingate said her husband came back from the grocery store on Wednesday and told her he heard a rumour involving cannabis candies at their daughter's school. But when they asked their daughter that night, she didn't know anything about it.
On Thursday, she came home from school and confirmed the rumour.
Wingate said it wasn't right that students sat in class Thursday not knowing what happened with their friends, except for what they'd heard at recess.
"The only information that she got was from other 10-year-olds on the playground," Wingate said. "And so who knows how reliable that information is? And my question really was, you know, who was there to help the kids process this information, and process the feelings that they were having about such a serious incident?"
Wingate said the incident could have been used as an educational moment about the effects of drugs. It's important to have an open dialogue with kids about drugs and "not make it a taboo subject," she said.
"Do you really think that 10-year-olds should be repeating other 10-year-olds about drugs? I mean, is that what we want to happen? Because that's what happened today. You had 10-year-olds educating other 10-year-olds about a drug incident. And that to me is the whole point of this situation."
Health Canada warnings
Health Canada has published several advisories about children accidentally ingesting cannabis and THC in the form of candies or snacks. In 2021, a mother spoke out after her child ate cannabis cookies made to look like Oreos.
Health Canada said these unregulated edibles can cause serious harm when consumed, especially by children or pets.
"Any products with flashy packaging, pictures, catchy names, strange THC symbols or that mimic popular name brands are illegal and unregulated, should not be consumed and should be reported to your local law enforcement," the agency said.
Hanson said that typically, when something like this happens, the RCMP would be alerted by the school. However, in this case, the RCMP were alerted through a news media request late Wednesday afternoon.
He said if he hadn't heard from the media first, he would have "absolutely" heard from the school.
"The school was actively trying to figure what was happening and calling the parents and calling Social Development before we had been called," he said. "As soon as I got that media request, I called the school, spoke with the principal, and we've been working with them since."
School system cites privacy act
Over the course of the day Thursday, before the RCMP released any information, the CBC requested information from several sources.
"Due to RTIPPA we are unable to comment," Stephanie Patterson, the Anglophone East School District spokesperson, said, referring to the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Patterson did not reply to questions about what this means or which section of the act she was referring to.
The school principal directed any media questions to Patterson. The Department of Education also directed questions to Patterson, as did the Anglophone East District Education Council.
With files from Hannah Rudderham