Cottonwood police have arrested Jessica Barrett, a 34-year-old Cottonwood resident, on two counts of child abuse and two counts of possession of marijuana after an investigation revealed she gave her 11- and 12-year-old children marijuana-infused candy.
CPD seized a bag of medicinal marijuana candies, a bag of gummy bear medicinal marijuana candies, a marijuana lollipop, a usable amount of marijuana and a marijuana pipe.
According to CPD Det. Sgt. Tod Moore, “One of the children told their father it made them ‘act crazy’ after ingesting it. Due to the delay in discovery and reporting, the children did not receive medical attention. Department of Child Services is involved.”
Moore stated that Barrett received the THC-infused gummies from an acquaintance, 35-year-old Anthea Sanderson Jones of Cottonwood. Jones, who has a valid Medicinal Marijuana Card, allegedly used the gummies as payment in exchange for watching her special needs child.
Jones was also arrested for one count of transfer and/or sale of marijuana. Selling or giving away legally-purchased medical marijuana is a violation of Arizona law.
“Though we believe the mother in this case intentionally gave these drugs to her children, it’s important for the public to be aware marijuana intended for medicinal use can take on many forms now,” CPD Chief Steve Gesell stated. “The marijuana industry continues to increase the potency to unprecedented levels. As we’ve seen in incidents recorded in Colorado, the potency has resulted in trips to the hospital and behavior typically not associated with marijuana.
“Please keep this in mind, particularly when children are present.”
Moore added that the greatest problem edible marijuana items pose is that they resemble normal food, and thus become tempting to small children.
“It does make the investigations more complicated because if these are taken out of their original packaging it is hard to recognize the items as anything but popular candy,” Moore stated. “Fortunately, this has been a rare case for us, although this most likely happens more often than not.
“In this particular case we were called to a domestic violence call where it was then learned from interviewing the father and the children that they had been given the THC-infused candy a few weeks prior. The long-lasting effects of this could possibly be devastating to a child if it continues to go on undetected or reported. Who knows what could happen if a child were to eat an entire bag of the candies?”
According to Gesell, CPD officers receive frequent training on drug trends.
“We strive to keep abreast of these evolving trends,” Gesell stated. “One of the most concerning aspects relative to trends involving marijuana is the illegal clandestine labs used to extract concentrated THC [e.g., ‘honey oil’ and ‘wax’], as they have proven to be highly volatile and dangerous. Intercepting shipped bails was prevalent when I was a narcotics detective in the 1990s.
“Now, small packages containing high potency extract are more difficult to interdict and equally of value to organized crime groups. We will remain vigilant in the enforcement of existing statutory and case law applying our resources where they will have the greatest benefit to our community.”