SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Gummy candies that sickened 19 people at a quinceanera party in San Francisco on Saturday appear to have contained marijuana, San Francisco Department of Public Health officials said today.
Health department officials have not yet completed testing on the candy, but said 12 of the hospitalized patients tested positive for THC, the active substance in marijuana.
The incident highlights the potential dangers of edible marijuana products, which can be very potent and difficult to control the dosage, according to Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco's health officer.
"A situation like this, where they were consumed by unsuspecting people, and many children, is greatly concerning," Aragon said in a statement.
A total of 19 people, 10 male and nine female, were hospitalized as a result of the incident. Thirteen of those patients were 18 or younger, ranging in age from 6 to 18, and fire officials said Sunday that three minors including a 9-year-old boy were treated in intensive care units.
All of the patients had been discharged by this morning, health officials said. They suffered from symptoms consistent with the effects of edible cannabis including rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, dilated pupils, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, lethargy and confusion.
The patients became sick after attending a quinceanera party at the Women's Building at 3543 18th St. in the Mission District on Saturday. The fire department responded to reports of people getting sick at the party at 10:22 p.m.
Dr. Craig Smollin with the San Francisco Division for the California Poison Control Center said they do not yet know the potency in the candy.
"We do have samples of urine and blood from the patients," Smollin said." We plan to look at what the concentrations of THC are."
He went on to say the department is always concerned with the packaging of the candy that is palatable and attractive to a child. Smollin said ingesting edibles in not fatal.
Investigators are now working to determine where the candies came from, and have interviewed several people who attended the party to learn more about what happened.
"We want to make sure from this perspective that this wasn't an intentional act by the caterer or anyone who attended the party who may have brought the item here," SFPD Officer Grace Gatpandan said.
The party was catered by a company based in Oakland, and the Alameda County Department of Public Health is also investigating.
The health department is also contacting those who attended the party to tell them to discard any uneaten candies they may have taken from there. Anyone who gets sick as a result of eating one should call the California Poison Control Center for advice at (800) 222-1222, or 911 if they are severely ill.