We’ve all heard you should never take candy from a stranger. Now, a mother is warning others that you shouldn’t take it from a friend either after her daughter was drugged. To drive home her point, the mom shared a disturbing video of what the drug-laced candy did to her kid.
Beth Richards was left stunned when her happy 10th-grade daughter, Autumn Richards, was rushed to the hospital on a Thursday after the girl ingested what she thought was “normal” candy at Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County, Florida. Sadly, the candy Autumn was given by a classmate was laced with synthetic THC, and it left the teen in terrible shape, News 4 Jax reported.
Although THC is found naturally in marijuana, the synthetic variety is “created in a lab and has resulted in a perversion of its original subject” — so much so, it’s been compared to “Frankenstein’s monster.” The effects of synthetic THC — sometimes called synthetic marijuana and also known by names such as “Spice,” “Black Mamba,” “K2,” “Fake Marijuana,” “Sexy Monkey” — are nothing like its namesake, either.
“Just being known as ‘synthetic marijuana’ has angered pot activists because its effects are nothing like that of marijuana,” HuffPost explains. “Synthetic marijuana’s non-cannabis herbs sprayed with lab-created chemicals which are said to give users a stronger high than THC can lead to seizures, hallucinations, and convulsions as well as profoundly negative psychological effects.”
Beth and her daughter Autumn experienced this frightening reality firsthand when Autumn began shaking uncontrollably after consuming the drug-laced candy and was rushed to the hospital via ambulance. Not knowing what was happening to her child at the time, Beth recorded the terrifying journey in disbelief, trying to understand what was going on as her daughter shook violently, and now, she’s glad she did. Using the disturbing footage, Beth spoke out, warning others.
The video from the ambulance shows a paramedic holding Autumn Richards in place as she jerked uncontrollably on the stretcher. “Her eyes were beginning to become fixed and dilated. She wasn’t blinking. It was a pretty horrific sight,” Beth Richards said, recalling the terrifying ambulance ride as Autumn was rushed to the hospital, where doctors said synthetic THC had caused her unusual condition.
Upon this shocking realization, some of the gummies that Autumn had received from the other teen at school were sent to a lab for testing. The boy who gave Autumn the candy was identified but had not been named — likely due to his age — as police continued their investigation. As for the school, the district condemned the ordeal, saying the teenager responsible could be hit with serious punishment.
“This incident constitutes a Level 4 offense in our Student Code of Conduct, which is the most serious,” a statement from the St. Johns County School District read in part.
Although Autumn made progress every day and was eventually discharged from the hospital in good spirits, there were still moments she would shake or twitch without control. Even after her release, she still needed to be spoonfed since she could not control her own arms enough to feed herself — which Beth also recorded for others to see — but it’s the sight of her daughter during the first moments of the terrifying ordeal that still haunts her mom.
“I’ve never seen a look like that in someone’s eyes before,” Beth explained. “To look at your child and see no life, it is the most horrific thing you will ever see as a parent.” And, Beth hopes it’s that horrific sight, which she captured on video, that will inspire other parents to have a serious conversation with their child about not taking candy from others — no matter how safe it appears.
Beth Richards hopes her daughter’s experience will act as a warning as she fears other children could be in danger — and she’s right to be worried. Synthetic THC is the second most used illicit drug among high school seniors, behind marijuana itself, Huff Post reported. And, as we already said and Autumn’s experience proved, synthetic THC isn’t at all like the plant-based THC naturally derived from marijuana.
“It could’ve happened anywhere. Regardless of this happening at school; that doesn’t matter. This could’ve happened at McDonald’s, it could have happened at a playground, it could’ve happened at home. The location does not matter,” Beth Richards said.
Sadly, many believe it’s “safe.” According to the Florida Poison Information Center in Jacksonville, the number of people poisoned by fake marijuana edibles and candies has tripled, and experts say there is little you can do to identify the real thing from the imitation, News 4 Jax reported. It’s the effects that are very different, but by the time you realize this, it could be too late.
“These things are dangerous — anybody who uses them is playing Russian roulette,” John W. Huffman, the scientist who is often credited with creating synthetic marijuana on a federal drug grant to study the effects of drugs on receptors in the brain on lab animals, told the Los Angeles Times in 2011.
There are legal, legitimate marijuana edibles from licensed dispensaries, but fakes ones are often sold on the street. Unless you know the source, you can’t tell them apart, according to experts. In Florida, like many other states, if you have a medical marijuana prescription card, you can get legal marijuana edibles that contain THC from a dispensary. It is the “illegal marijuana edibles,” which “look the same” that “are giving a black eye to the real thing.”
Unlike real marijuana, the fake or synthetic stuff can cause long-term damage and even kill you, experts say. “There are cases of death from the synthetic products,” Anthony DeGelorum, a clinical toxicology fellow at Poison Control, said. Unfortunately, many parents don’t know that there is a difference or the danger of getting synthetic substances should their child decide to “get a little pot” from a friend. This isn’t the marijuana other generations grew up with — and we need to make sure our kids know it before it’s too late.