Saint Lucia’s Substance Abuse Advisory Council Secretariat (SAACC) has expressed renewed concern over marketing commercial treats that might contain harmful substances after Jamaican students unknowingly ate cannabis-laced candy.
The more than 60 elementary school students ended up in the hospital and appeared to be in critical condition.
CNN quoted Education and Youth Minister Fayval Williams saying on Monday that the children are aged 7 to 12.
Williams disclosed via social media that the candy caused the children from St. Ann’s Bay Primary to vomit and hallucinate.
The Minister urged parents, teachers, and adults to beware and talk to children about ‘this serious and dangerous product.’
“One little boy said he only had ONE sweetie. That’s how potent this product is,” she disclosed.
The packaging stated the product contains Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta-8 THC, a psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis sativa plant.
However, reports indicate that the candy might have been repackaged for sale.
SAACC Acting Coordinator Natasha Lloyd-Felix told St. Lucia Times that the development in Jamaica demonstrated that the danger is real.
“We are noticing trends in the region, not just isolated to Jamaica or any one Caribbean country where there are threats of substances being contained in what are seemingly known commercial candies, treats and sweets,” Lloyd-Felix stated.
She recalled that as a result, the SAACC had issued a recent alert, later reinforcing it as schools reopened.
The SAACC Acting Coordinator explained that a child might likely be exposed to a product that does not appear threatening to health but could result in judgement-impairment and other adverse impacts.
“The Jamaica situation just points to the fact that this risk is real,” she observed.
Lloyd-Felix reiterated the need for parents, school administrators and society to recognise that individuals are using innovative methods to market products that could impair youngsters’ judgement.
She told St. Lucia Times that the SAACC and the Ministry of Health are examining their national coordinated effort to institute an early warning system for drugs and new psychoactive substances.
But Lloyd-Felix explained that the authorities need the partnership of parents, schools and the entire society to heighten vigilance, including reading package labels carefully and being wary about buying products that do not have packaging labels.
Headline photo: The cannabis-laced candy came in this bright packaging, according to Jamaican officials.