2 CU students accused of giving unsuspecting classmates, instructor pot brownies

2 students, 1 instructor hospitalized

BOULDER, Colo. - Two CU students were arrested on suspicion of bringing marijuana-laced brownies to class as part of a “bring food day,” campus police said.

Three people were hospitalized from the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, UCPD said. Five others reported feeling sick.

CU campus police said Thomas Ricardo Cunningham, 21, and Mary Elizabeth Essa, 19, baked THC-laced brownies for the class as part of a “bring food day.” The professor and classmates were unaware that the brownies contained THC.

At about 10:20 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, UCPD responded to the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building on a report of a professor who was complaining of dizziness and going in and out of consciousness. Paramedics transported her to a local hospital.

At about 4 p.m., a student’s mother notified UCPD that her daughter (who was in the professor’s class earlier that day) was having an anxiety attack and was at a local hospital.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, a second student told UCPD that she felt like she was going to “blackout” after the class. Her family took her to the hospital for evaluation.

UCPD interviewed Cunningham and Essa on the evening of Dec. 8 and confirmed that the brownies contained marijuana.

UCPD arrested Cunningham and Essa on suspicion of assault in the second degree, Inducing Consumption of Controlled Substances by Fraudulent Means, Conspiracy to Commit Assault in the Second Degree, and Conspiracy to Commit Inducing Consumption of Controlled Substances by Fraudulent Means.

UCPD has interviewed the professor and 11 of the 12 students in class. Of those contacted thus far, two were suspects, three were hospitalized, five others became ill, and two did not eat the brownies. The three hospitalized victims have since been released.

"There could be prison time in this case," CU police spokesman Ryan Huff said at a Sunday news conference. "This is something we take very seriously."

CU Spokesperson Bronson Hilliard said, "It's not only a violation of the law and university rules but that trust violation is absolutely critical. To do that to one's classmates and professor, just un-does the fabric of what goes on in the classroom."

The university will review the cases but could suspend or expel the two students.