A pair of parents were charged on Wednesday after their toddler died from ingesting marijuana “spice” in late October 2017.
Over 2,200 Canadians were hospitalized for “spice” overdoses in the first nine months of 2017, though the Toronto mother’s charges are the first where the drugs were charged.
Grace Ng and David Lee, both 25, are charged with drug trafficking and manslaughter in the death of 19-month-old Rai Ng.
Canadian spice cases skyrocket as experts grow alarmed by rise in emergency hospitalizations Read more
Her death was reported just days after the first ever investigation into the problem, which medical workers say they have never seen on the scale that they’ve seen since October 2017.
Lee and Ng were taken into custody in June, but the charges were not announced until Wednesday morning. The duo was remanded in custody to appear in court on Thursday.
Lee’s arrest comes after an anonymous tipster alerted Toronto police in June of the undercover investigation and the charges against the couple.
“Detectives on the case will be testifying in court this afternoon, and that means that the mother, Mr Lee, and Mr Ng cannot be released on bail,” said Det Deputy Chief Tina Kwan in a press conference on Wednesday.
Toronto police Detective Sgt Brad Dunsworth said the duo was also found in possession of marijuana.
“I would say the pain from our investigators – from narcotics – working on this case is quite significant,” he said.
There have been other recent incidents involving kids who had ingested the weed-laced drug called JWH-018, but Toronto police’s chief of drug enforcement Bill Blair said he was not aware of any other deaths resulting from the use of “spice”.
“There have been a handful of incidents – almost certainly any number of these incidents where children are involved. But I don’t know of any cases where they have been prosecuted,” Blair said.
Toronto police raided two medical marijuana dispensaries and a home on 10 May where a commercial cultivation center with 9.2kg of dried pot was found.
A North Carolina coroner ruled that four-year-old LaTisha Norman committed suicide on 3 June by ingesting the synthetic cannabinoid Spice while in the care of her mother, Durren Norman.
A number of other recent cases of children hospitalized after ingesting marijuana have made headlines, including a six-year-old Arkansas girl who died in April after taking a high dose of the drug and a five-year-old Texas girl who was also hospitalized in April.
“This is an extraordinary number of cases that we’ve seen and it warrants a lot of attention from the public,” Blair said.
Parents and guardians are banned from keeping the drug, which is also known as Spice, in the home, as well as in public places.
Despite police warnings and warnings from lawmakers, “spice” continues to be a serious problem, as users try new products.
The New York Times reported on 1 June that “spice” would soon be outfitted with an alarm that would alert police in the event of a reaction.