Pickens County 7-year-old hospitalized over drug disguised as candy

PICKENS COUNTY, Ga. - A Pickens County 7-year-old was hospitalized for eating what he thought was candy.

It ended up being a drug called delta-8, a THC that's legal for those 21 and up, but can be fatal for young kids.

When Hannah Puddick's son, Bryce, went to the hospital, the school sent out an email encouraging parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of accepting candy from other students. She says that's the least parents should do if they choose to have delta-8, or edibles, in their home.

"He keeps saying, 'I'm sorry mom, I thought it was candy,'" she said.

Monday, Puddick said it's a blessing her 7-year-old can hold his head up, have a coherent conversation, and go to school.

On Feb. 5, she said she got a concerning phone call from Hill City Elementary's assistant principal. That afternoon, Bryce couldn't do any of that.

By the time she called the school back and arrived, her son and three other boys had thrown up. At the time, teachers and staff had no idea what caused their sickness.

"They said at first, 'We thought a bean bag busted in PE,'" Puddick said.

When EMTs arrived, they said no powder from a bean bag would make a child limp and languid.

"We had to go to the hospital because he was not responsive and very lethargic. He couldn't hold his hands up, his feet up, his head, couldn't keep his eyes open," she said.

As the boy was lying in the hospital on fluids, the school called again saying they checked the boys' backpacks. One of them was carrying a substance that looked just like a candy marketed for kids.

"The little boy shared it with him and another little boy," she said.

Instead, it was delta-8, a compound found in cannabis, though mostly synthesized from CBD to create edibles, like a brownie.

According to the FDA, from 2021 to 2022, poison control centers around the U.S. received more than a thousand adverse delta-8 exposure cases. Of them, nearly half involved kids under 18. One child died from the drug.

"Don't leave it where your kids could get it, or at least say it's not candy to share," Puddick said. "A safe is $25 at Walmart, and that's way cheaper than a funeral bill."

Thankfully, that little boy has recovered and is back in school, though his mom says she's had conversations with him about accepting candy from other children.

FOX 5's Alex Whittler reached out to the school district for comment. Instead, they provided the email they sent parents about the importance of talking to their kids about sharing, taking and consuming food from others.