The former lunch lady told children, "I'm your nana," before offering them cookies out of a knitted bag. She now faces a six-month suspended prison sentence.
Photo by Kerry Murphy via Stocksy
On a recent holiday in Copenhagen, I ate three-quarters of a hash brownie I purchased from a balaclava-wearing man in a commune. I wound up having to ditch my bike, walk home in a thunderstorm while crying and hyperventilating, and then hallucinated for seven solid hours in a tastefully appointed mid-century Danish flat.
That's a whole lot of hallucinating for a three-day city break! And it wasn't even fun, I'm telling you. Weed edibles are the worst!
Which is why I have the utmost sympathy for the young victims of Britain's very own "Cookie Lady," the 61-year-old grandmother who was prosecuted recently for baking cannabis biscuits and feeding them to children she met at a pub in Grimsby, Lincolnshire.
Let's gloss over the important question of what four children were doing in a pub, let alone a Grimsby pub—for the benefit of our international readers, let me just say I dated a guy from Grimsby once, and Grimsby is bleak—and focus on the facts.
The Daily Mail reports that former lunch lady Lesley Collins supplied hash cakes to four young people—three aged 13, and one aged 12—after meeting them at the Corporation Arms pub. Lawyers told the court that Collins said "I'm your nana" to the children, before offering them the homemade cookies out of her knitted bag.
After eating a portion of the cookies, one of the girls said the biscuit tasted "sweet and disgusting at the same time," according to Jeremy Evans, the lawyer prosecuting the case. "She ate a small mouthful before throwing it away," Evans went on. "She was sick and was left with a shaky feeling." Another girl who consumed around half a biscuit complained of feeling dizzy and sick.
When the children started to freak out like the rookie potheads they were, they approached a local police officer for assistance. On her arrest, Collins blamed the booze for her regrettable decision to get random kids high. "It's despicable," she told police. "I didn't know I had done it. I was drunk."
Collins was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence and 10 days' rehabilitation by Grimsby Crown Court. "'I am so very sorry this has happened. I hate myself and my part in it," Collins told the court. "Please accept my apology. I hope you can have some understanding how bewildered I am."
Obviously you shouldn't get kids high. Obviously. But is it really, definitely bad if you get kids a little bit high?
Yes! What is wrong with you people? Definitely don't get kids high. However, as I've learnt through bitter experience, it's the edibles you've got to watch out for.
"If children are fed or intentionally eat cannabis edibles, like cookies or chocolate, risks would arise," says Oli Stevens, a spokesperson for Drug Science, a non-profit scientific body focusing on evidence-based drugs policy. "These risks aren't drug-toxicity risks," he adds, meaning there's no danger of the children overdosing—but that's not to say it's without danger.
"The dangers would be very similar to those associated with drunk children," Stevens says. "This could include loss of coordination possibly leading to an accident, poor road safety, disorientation, and quite possible a scary experience for a young child."
While adolescent cannabis use has been linked in one study to a decline in IQ and, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, worsens depression, a one-off encounter with the Cookie Lady—while terrifying—probably won't cause these children any lasting harm.
"The risks of longer time side effects from a single event are essentially nil," Stevens confirms. Still, next time a nice lady offers you a cookie out of a knitted handbag in the corner of a local pub, it's probably best to say no—whether you're a kid or not.