Thursday, December 12, 2013
CAPE ELIZABETH — Police are investigating an incident involving marijuana cookies that led to the suspension of nine Cape Elizabeth High School students.
In this March 2008 file photo, a police cruiser sits in front of Cape Elizabeth High School. Police are investigating a Friday, Dec. 10, 2012 marijuana-cookie incident that led to the suspension of nine Cape Elizabeth High School students.
John Ewing / Staff Photographer
School administrators received information Friday about marijuana-laced cookies on school grounds, said Superintendent Meredith Nadeau.
The student who provided the cookies apparently knew they contained marijuana, but it was less clear whether everyone who ate them knew, she said.
The names of the students are not being released.
School policy calls for a student who distributes or sells drugs to be suspended for 10 days and possibly be expelled.
Expulsion requires a hearing before the School Board.
The penalty for first-time possession is a two-day suspension and a visit to a substance abuse counselor.
No one has been charged in the incident, which occurred as the high school hosted a TEDxYouth event on Friday. The day-long event for the school's juniors and seniors featured speakers addressing the school district's guiding values of "Community, Academics, Passion and Ethics" -- an acronym for Cape.
Some of the students ate the cookies, felt ill and went to the school nurse's office, but Nadeau indicated Monday that other information prompted the administration's investigation. She would not specify what that information was.
The incident apparently did not require anyone to go to the hospital, said Cape Elizabeth police Capt. Brent Sinclair.
There was no information to suggest that parents or school district employees were involved, Sinclair said.
School Board Chairwoman Mary Townsend said she could not comment on the suspensions.
"The board stays out of these issues. We are not usually informed, in case there's an expulsion hearing, because we need to be the jury," she said.
In June 2010, a boy was expelled from Cape Elizabeth High School after he sold a pot brownie to a classmate at school. The student who bought the brownie wound up in a hospital emergency room.
The Northern New England Poison Center periodically gets calls about marijuana poisoning, including 37 from Maine so far this year.
The effects of ingesting marijuana in food can be different from those of smoking it, said Karen Simone, a clinical toxicologist and the center's director.
The sensations can be different, she said, and someone who ingests the plant could feel sick, especially if they don't know they have ingested it.
Marijuana could cause agitation, drowsiness, confusion or paranoia, Simone said, and the dosage may be harder to control when the drug is eaten. "Just because something gets you high doesn't mean you like it," she said.
Criminal prosecution in Friday's case could be difficult because police would have to make a case separate from the information that school officials obtained in their investigation, said Jonathan Berry, a lawyer who practices criminal defense and has a specialty in marijuana law.
School officials have broader authority than police to search lockers or compel statements from students, so that information might not be admissible in court, he said.
Berry said he's unaware of anyone being prosecuted for pot cookies.
Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: