A Virginia mother has been charged with murder and felony child neglect after her 4-year-old son died from eating THC gummies, police said.
Dorothy Annette Clements, 30, of Spotsylvania was arrested Wednesday, two days after a grand jury indicted her on the charges related to the May death of her son.
Authorities said Clements failed to get her son help quickly enough after he was found unresponsive on May 6 at a Fredericksburg home they were visiting, about 11 miles away from Spotsylvania.
The boy died two days later, according to police, who said detectives believe the boy ingested a "large amount" of the gummies.
NBC Washington reported that an autopsy found THC — the ingredient in marijuana that gets people high — was the cause of death.
A doctor told detectives that the boy could have been saved if he received medical attention sooner, according to authorities.
Clements told police she called poison control after the boy ate half of a CBD gummy and that officials told her he would be fine, NBC Washington reported.
But police say Clements' claims did not match evidence found at the home, where a detective reported finding an empty THC gummy jar in the house where he was found, according to NBC Washington.
Clements faces up to 40 years in prison for the murder charge.
Her arraignment is set for Nov. 1, online records show.
Poison Control says that "serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects can occur in children who consume cannabis edibles," and recommends parents keep cannabis products away from kids.
Side effects for kids who consume THC edibles can include "vomiting, dizziness, difficulty walking, a rapid heart rate, drowsiness, confusion, and breathing difficulties," along with hallucinations, low blood pressure and an abnormally slow heart rate in severe cases, according to Poison Control.
"Parents and caregivers should call poison control regardless of whether symptoms are present because signs and symptoms may not occur immediately after consumption," the organization says.
Experts say the appearance of THC gummies is part of what makes them extra risky to leave around children.
The packaging of the gummies typically isn't childproof, and given their resemblance to candy, "when children come across them, most children are going to put that in their mouth and ingest it," pediatric emergency room physician Dr. Jill McCabe, who works at Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, told NBC Washington.
If children do consume them, parents should immediately call 911 and seek emergency medical care if the child is "having difficulty breathing, not breathing well, having a seizure, difficulty walking, very lethargic, [or having] persistent vomiting," McCabe told NBC Washington.
The warnings follow a string of recent incidents in which children were hospitalized for consuming foods laced with THC.
In 2020, at least two children — an 11-year-old and a 5-year-old — were hospitalized after eating "Medicated Nerds Rope," a THC-laced candy, from a food bank in Utah.
A year earlier, the mother of a 5-year-old boy was arrested for child endangerment after her son brought gummies laced with THC to his Cleveland elementary school, causing nine children to be hospitalized.
In 2018, at least 5 Florida middle school students were taken to the hospital after eating marijuana-laced gummy bears, which a 12-year-old boy allegedly handed out during gym class.
Medical experts said the 2015 death of an 11-month-old baby boy in Colorado marked "the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis," though the baby was officially listed as having died from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and other experts questioned whether cannabis caused the death.