Scary incident at Heartland elementary school highlights growing concern with marijuana edibles and kids

An incident at a southern Illinois school adds to the growing concern with marijuana edibles and kids.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 5:50 PM CDT
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SESSER, Ill. (KFVS) - A scary incident at a Heartland elementary school this week highlighted the growing concern about marijuana edibles and kids.

School leaders in Sesser say a student shared cookies with several classmates that looked like a trusted brand, but turned out to be anything but.

Most of us are familiar with Chips Ahoy cookies and their blue packaging.

The school superintendent at Sesser-Valier said a child brought cookies from a very similar-looking bag to school Tuesday and shared them with nine classmates. It’s believed the cookies were actually laced with THC.

We talked to an area pharmacist about what can happen when kids consume pot edibles.

“Young children have an increased potential for overdosing or succumbing to the effects of THC and cannabis products,” said Ben Calcaterra, pharmacist at MediCenter Pharmacy, Logan Primary.

Calcaterra talked about the risk posed by what’s becoming a more common hazard - kids getting their hands on marijuana edibles.

“Unfortunately, there’s no laws that I’m aware of to child-proof those products; and some of the edible products do look like bakery products or candies and are easily misidentified as non-THC containing products,” Calcaterra said.

That’s exactly what school leaders in Sesser say happened Tuesday.

District Superintendent Jason Henry sent a letter to parents, explaining one of those students ended up in the emergency room.

Henry explained the student did not know the cookies contained THC. He said they reached out to all the families involved.

“Nine children and families paid an unimaginable price on Tuesday for an adult’s irresponsible exercise of his/her freedom,” Henry told us.

He apologized to parents for the incident and said they’re committed to helping everyone navigate what he called a tough situation.

Calcaterra, meantime, wants all parents to take this chance to talk to their kids about the danger these products can cause.

“They know that they can only take medicines that are approved by their parent or guardians to take, and that there are some types of products that look like regular food and candies and they’re just not so that talk with a child is very important,” Calcaterra added.

Superintendent Henry said district personnel also reported the incident to the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services the day after it happened.