Several students from Twin Lakes Academy Middle School were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
School officials say at least six students got sick from eating the gummies. JFRD said five were taken to the hospital.
The school principal sent out communication to parents saying in part, “We were made aware that a student was in possession of unknown gummy substances and shared the items with other students in their class.”
It’s unclear what type of substance it is at this time, but Florida Poison Control spokesperson Mike McCormick said he’s not surprised to hear about an incident like this.
“The problem especially with a gummy format, is that when children get their hands on them, do you know how many gummies they usually take? All of them,” McCormick told Action News Jax.
McCormick says there are different types of gummies, including recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and hemp-based THC products.
“We have this wide array of products that are out there that are available,” McCormick said. “And what ends up happening, as we’re seeing recreational marijuana laws change across the country, there is an overall perception that this is not dangerous for children. And the reality is it is dangerous for children.”
This is a trend McCormick says he is seeing across the country, and even locally. According to Florida Poison Control, nearly 800 children were exposed to hemp-based products in the state last year. In 2016, there was only one exposure to a child.
And McCormick says it can be dangerous to children.
“We can see hallucinations, we can see vomiting, tremors, anxiety, dizziness, confusion, even loss of consciousness,” McCormick said.
In the communication to parents, the principal said that drugs and illegal substances are prohibited on campus, and students can face serious disciplinary action and could face possible criminal charges.
Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson says both the parent and child could face legal ramifications.
“The fact that they’re juveniles doesn’t remove them from the possibility that the state of Florida has a concern about this sort of behavior. And they have criminal charges to place against an individual who brings contraband into a school,” Carson stated.
Carson stressed the importance of properly storing all substances to prevent access by children.
Depending on what type of substance it is, Carson says the parents could face civil charges for failing to secure dangerous products.
While it’s unclear how the student got the substance, McCormick wants to remind parents to keep medicine and other drugs away from children.
This incident is still under investigation.
The Principal released this statement to parents of Twin Lakes Middle School Families:
“Good Evening Twin Lakes Middle School families. This is Principal Williams calling to make you aware of an incident that occurred today and the steps we took to keep everyone safe. We were made aware that a student was in possession of unknown gummy substances and shared the items with other students in their class. At this time, we are aware of at least six students who ingested this substance. All six reported feeling ill and the families of those students were contacted. They were either picked up by their family or transported to area hospitals for medical evaluation. At this time, we are unable to verify what type of substance was ingested, but law enforcement is investigating. While the substance is unknown, this incident does present an important opportunity for families to talk to their children about the dangers of drugs and illegal substances as well as ingesting unknown substances. We also encourage you to check your child’s backpack daily and remind them that bringing prohibited items onto our campus is a serious code of conduct violation that can result in school discipline and possible criminal charges. Thank you as always for your support of Twin Lakes Academy and have a great evening.”
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