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News Release: Two CU students arrested for providing marijuana brownies to class

CU POLICE SOCIAL MEDIA: Stay informed. Stay Safe


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RELEASED: December 9, 2012

CONTACT:   Ryan Huff, Police Dept. spokesman 303-492-7581 / ryan.huff@colorado.edu

                     Bronson Hilliard, CU spokesman, 303-735-6183 / bronson.hilliard@colorado.edu

The University of Colorado Police Department has arrested two CU students on suspicion of multiple felonies for furnishing marijuana-laced brownies to their unsuspecting classmates and instructor.

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.

An investigation revealed that the three hospitalized victims – and five other classmates – were suffering from the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. Two students – 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.

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 the following charges:

  • Assault in the Second Degree (Class 4 felony)
  • Inducing Consumption of Controlled Substances by Fraudulent Means (Class 4 felony)
  • Conspiracy to Commit Assault in the Second Degree (Class 5 felony)
  • Conspiracy to Commit Inducing Consumption of Controlled Substances by Fraudulent Means (Class 5 felony)

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.

The Case Number is 2012-3559. The case remains under investigation, and thus investigative reports are not available for release at this time. UCPD believes this is an isolated incident and there’s no ongoing threat to the campus community.

Any discipline carried out by the Office of Student Conduct is confidential and protected by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).