SAN FRANCISCO—Over 19 people were treated on Saturday, August 6, when they unknowingly consumed marijuana-infused gummies at a Quinceañera event in San Francisco’s Mission District.
The San Francisco Fire Department received word of the incident at approximately 10:22 p.m. and dispatched crews to the The Women’s Building at 3542 18th Street, where many community and social events are held.
According to NBC Bay Area news, the security guard on duty, Raul Hernandez, called 911 when he realized a number of the partygoers were exhibiting concerning behavior, like, vomiting, foaming at the mouth and having trouble breathing. The reaction is likely a result of the marijuana-laced, orange-colored peach gummy rings. The event was catered by an Oakland-based company.
The victims—13 of which were children, ranged from ages six to 18 and reported experiencing symptoms consistent with edible marijuana: rapid heart rate, confusion, dilated pupils, high blood pressure, dizziness, light-headedness, lethargy, confusion and nausea, according to the SFFD.
“It was just one after another and another,” Hernandez told NBC Bay Area. “A gentleman was holding his chest. The young lady, she couldn’t talk and was gasping for air.”
Paramedics on scene rushed victims—including two older men—to several ambulances parked outside the venue and raced to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where they were treated for their symptoms. Three minors, including a nine-year-old boy, were treated in the intensive care unit. All 19 victims were discharged from the hospital by Monday morning.
“If these candies are confirmed as edible marijuana, then this event is a strong warning about the dangers of edibles, which can be very potent and hard to control dosage in the best circumstances,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, a health officer for San Francisco in a statement. “A situation like this, where they were consumed by unsuspecting people, and many children, is greatly concerning.”
The final laboratory results confirmed that 12 of the patients hospitalized, as well as candies ingested, tested positive for THC, the principal ingredient in cannabis and cause of the drug’s psychological effects.
A special unit of San Francisco’s Police Department is working in conjunction with the Alameda County Department of Public Health to determine how the candies ended up at the party and if their placement there was intentional.
“Could this have been a willful act to harm people at this party? We don’t know but we’re investigating that,” said SFPD Sgt. Michael Andraychak. “So far, however, we’ve found nothing to indicate that this was an intentional act.”
A SFPD spokesperson declined to comment on the name of the catering company and if the birthday girl was among those hospitalized.
“This could have been a much worse situation than it was, and I’m glad that all the children that ingested the candy have recovered,” said San Francisco Mayor Edward M Lee in a statement.