FLINT, MI – A woman accused of leaving THC-infused gummies in her refrigerator where her 6-year-old daughter was able to get them, take them to school and pass them out to fellow classmates prompting some of them to go to the hospital has pleaded guilty in Genesee County District Court.
Melinda Alicia Gatica appeared before Judge William H. Crawford of the 67th District Court Thursday, June 23, and pleaded guilty to an amended charge of misdemeanor fourth-degree child abuse.
The plea agreement also includes a recommendation for no up-front jail time, meaning that if Gatica were to follow the terms of a one-year probationary period prosecutors would dismiss the charge.
The agreement stipulates that Gatica pays outstanding medical bills accrued by classmates who had to be taken to the hospital after ingesting some of the gummies.
“From the beginning, I said she was an individual who was not a criminal but someone who made a mistake,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said in a statement to The Journal. “She’s being held accountable for that mistake. She must pay full restitution for the monies expended because of her error in judgement. And I’m quite sure we got her attention and that of the community reminding folks to safeguard THC products by keeping them away from children.”
Gatica was accused of leaving marijuana gummies in a Life Savers bag inside her refrigerator. Her child took the bag to school with them, mistakenly thinking they were candy, and shared them with classmates, authorities said previously.
In court Thursday, she said she left the bag on the top shelf of the refrigerator and that her daughter had to climb up shelves in order to access the gummies.
Gatica was arraigned on May 4 on one felony count of second-degree child abuse. She turned herself in prior to the hearing.
The charge was issued after more than a dozen students reportedly felt ill on April 29.
First responders were called to Edgerton Elementary school around 1 p.m. that day in response to the students reporting to their teacher that they felt ill.
The school building of more than 400 students was evacuated as another form of caution. The school reached out to parents to notify them of the situation.
The symptoms shown by the students – nausea, lethargy, and lightheadedness – mirrored those indicative of carbon monoxide poisoning, or what one may feel if there was a gas leak, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said at the time.
Authorities initially inspected the air and food in the school but did not indicate they found anything. Crews from Consumers Energy assisted area fire departments in examining the building for a gas leak or carbon monoxide but confirmed there was no leak or carbon monoxide detected.
According to the letter, five kindergarten students from one classroom were transported to Hurley Medical Center in Flint.
Gatica said her daughter also was hospitalized for multiple days after consuming sever of the gummies.
Gatica purchased liquid THC in 2021 and made her own marijuana-infused gummy edibles with up to 30 milligrams of THC per gummy, Swanson said previously. She did so because she had a torn rotator cuff, and the THC helped her sleep through the pain caused by the injury, she said in court.
Gatica’s attorney, Sara Coaster, said during the hearing that her client has since had surgery for the injury and no longer relies on the THC.
“I forgot they were even in my refrigerator, to be honest with you,” Gatica told Crawford.
Sentencing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 9 before Crawford. Gatica remains free on a personal recognizance bond.
Read more at The Flint Journal:
Preliminary examination scheduled for mother whose 6-year-old allegedly shared marijuana edibles
Mother charged after her 6-year-old shared marijuana edibles with kindergarten classmates, officials say
Woman faces child abuse charge in connection with Edgerton Elementary School incident
Don’t eat food that isn’t yours, principal pleads after several students fall ill at Edgerton Elementary
Clio elementary school students may have fallen ill after ingesting a foreign substance, district says
Carbon monoxide, gas leak ruled out as sheriff’s office investigates illnesses at Edgerton Elementary
Edgerton Elementary evacuated after several students reporting feeling ill, authorities say