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Pot and brownies a bad mix for University of Colorado class

December 10, 2012|By Matt Pearce

Although it's now legal to smoke weed in Colorado, you still can't secretly feed it to your classmates.

Two University of Colorado Boulder students face multiple felony charges after the marijuana-laced brownies they brought to class put their professor in the hospital and sickened seven classmates, campus police said Sunday.

November's voter-approved Amendment 64 made Colorado's marijuana laws some of the most relaxed in the nation, but Thomas Ricardo Cunningham, 21, and Mary Elizabeth Essa, 19, may not get much help from it. The pair have been arrested on suspicion of planning and intentionally committing second-degree assault and inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means.

"This is something we take very seriously," campus police spokesman Ryan Huff said Sunday at what had to be one of the grimmest press conferences a man could give about pot brownies. "Putting marijuana into a food product and providing it to somebody without their knowledge has always been illegal, and that will continue to be illegal, even after Amendment 64. So I just want to make this clear that these are serious felony cases and we take these very seriously.”

It was the week before finals, and Friday was a "bring food" day for the class, officials said, but  the brownies and orange juice appeared to be the only fare. Afterward, the professor, whose name wasn't released, was falling in and out of consciousness after eating the brownies, and paramedics had to take her to the hospital.

Two other students were hospitalized with anxiety and lightheadedness, and five more had a "bad reaction," officials said. It's not clear if Essa and Cunningham ate their own brownies.

After police arrested and interviewed the pair, Huff said, "we were confident there [was] marijuana in the brownies." He added, "This was planned. I wouldn’t call it an accident. They knew what they were doing.”

University spokesman Bronson Hilliard told reporters that the school -- ranked No. 1 on the Princeton Review's list of "Reefer Madness" schools -- wouldn't be reevaluating its policies on bringing food to class but reiterated that this sort of thing isn't something to laugh about.

“Anybody who thinks this is cute, anybody who thinks that this was funny, is going to face pretty severe sanctions, both criminally and potentially within the student conduct process," Hilliard said.

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