Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Drug test answer – I bought bikkies from a church, officer

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-04

Turn about is fair play it seems.

A few years back in Melbourne, a couple of door-to-door salesmen for imaginery friends called an ambulance after being asked into a house, and eating some biscuits proffered by their hosts.  (The symptoms were probably an over-the-top psychological reaction to the buzz.)

Now, from the Centre for Disease Control, in the usually very dry Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, comes a tale of turned tables.

The tables in question being a church-run stall on the footpath selling munchies.

Brownies, "single, unlabeled units, individually wrapped in plastic wrap, costing $1.50 each", were purchased by a pre-school teacher from a stall on the footpath, run as a church fundraiser.  The teacher had some, and put the rest on a table in the staff room for all to share, with inevitable results, as it seems they were strong enough to cause drowsiness, ataxia, and paraesthesia.  There was no real danger, a lethal dose is about 1000 times enough for a "buzz", and the teachers were able to keep giving lessons that day, although I bet the kiddiwinks were puzzled, wondering why their teachers found singing the alphabet so funny that afternoon.

Of course, the MMWR had to draw some lessions from the exercise – the CDC isn’t just an elite emergency service running around in spacesuits, but a body that collates health statistics and issues public advisories.

The findings in this report demonstrate the utility of a collaborative investigation by public health and law enforcement.  The findings also underscore the need to consider marijuana as a potential contaminant during foodborne illness investigations and the importance of identifying drug metabolites by testing of clinical specimens soon after symptom onset.

Inadvertent Ingestion of Marijuana
Los Angeles, California,
CDC MMWR, September 4, 2009 / 58(34);947-950

Of the five teachers (and the adult son of the teacher who liked to share), two sought medical attention, and of course, urine samples gave a positive result for THC.

It took a moderately intensive investigation ("Investigators considered a broad spectrum of etiologies"), collecting enough data to demand tabulation here and here, to find the common factor – the brownies.

So given the US mandatory drug tests for government employment, and even here the possibility of losing driving permits if you are busted at the roadside, I wonder how many people are going to use the "but I’ve bought some nibbles for charity, officer" excuse.

…but all’s well that ends well:

All affected persons recovered completely within hours after the exposure.  Symptom duration ranged from 3 to 10 hours, with a mean of 6.25 hours.  DPH environmental health inspectors and LAPD conducted a search on April 19 but were unable to locate the sidewalk vendor.  No charges were brought against the teacher who purchased the brownies.  No further complaints from affected persons or reports of additional symptomatic persons have been received to date.
The sidewalk vendor has not been located to date.

… but I bet the vendors made a tidy little sum that day!


One Response to “Drug test answer – I bought bikkies from a church, officer”

  1. Oh dear. Well at least the teachers didn’t get in trouble. That would have been unfair. I wonder if the kids noticed?

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