‘This was not an intentional act’ Couple charged with handing out cannabis candy insist they meant no harm
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A Winnipeg couple charged with handing out bags of cannabis edibles to children on Halloween night insist they made a mistake and were not trying to harm trick-or-treaters.
Police arrested Sheldon Chochinov, 63, and Tammy Sigurdur, 53, a day after kids received bags of THC candy, which look similar to bags of children’s sweets, in south Tuxedo.
Chochinov and Sigurdur have each been charged with 13 counts of distributing cannabis to a young person and 13 counts of distributing cannabis knowing it is illegal.
“We would like to make it clear that this was in no way an intentional act,” Chochinov’s defence lawyer Evan Roitenberg wrote to the Free Press on the couple’s behalf on Wednesday. “At no time did either party know that there were drugs included with candy handed out on Halloween.
“When they became aware on Nov. 1, they contacted our office for the purpose of facilitating their doing the right thing: alerting the police and advising them that the candy came from their home. This was not an intentional act.”
New alleged details emerged this week in documents prepared by police to obtain a search warrant for the couple’s home on Coleraine Crescent.
The documents state defence lawyer Richard Wolson contacted police on the couple’s behalf after police publicly warned parents about the THC candies Nov. 1.
“Chochinov disclosed to Wolson that the two ran out of candy on Halloween night and distributed the THC candy from their personal ‘stash,’” Const. Paul Babiak wrote in a search warrant application.
“These are good people who meant no harm to children.”–Evan Roitenberg, defence lawyer
“Chochinov disclosed to Wolson that this was a mistake made when under the influence and both he and his wife regretted what they had done.”
Police were concerned about the potential destruction of evidence in the home, Babiak wrote.
Roitenberg declined to comment on the documents on the couple’s behalf.
“As to the substance of the search warrant application, as the matter is still before the court, it would be improper to discuss that further,” he wrote. “These are good people who meant no harm to children.”
Wolson also represents Chochinov. Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds represents Sigurdur.
Parents whose children received the “Nerds Rope Bites” cannabis edibles while trick-or-treating last Oct. 31 raised questions about the claim the couple ran out of Halloween candy.
“It made me kind of cynically laugh because the (THC) candy was in a Ziploc bag with two full-size chocolate bars for each kid,” said Jocelyn Cordeiro, whose nine-year-old daughter received one of the bags. “They did not run out of candy. It really doesn’t make sense.”
Kim Wlodarczyk made the same observation. Her 12-year-old son and three friends he was trick-or-treating with all received the packages, she said.
“These were specifically put into a Ziploc bag with two full-size chocolate bars,” Wlodarczyk said Wednesday. “It makes absolutely no sense.”
According to the packaging, the candies contain 600 mg of THC, with a “super potent formula.” THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
The packaging states the edibles are for medical use only, and should be kept out of the reach of children and animals.
In November, police said none of the children, aged from six to 16, had eaten the candies.
One of the first warnings on Halloween night came from Cordeiro, who tweeted a photo of a red ”Nerds Rope Bites” package given to her son. She urged parents to check their children’s Halloween candy.
“I wanted to put the word out as quickly as possible,” she said.
Cordeiro also notified police, and later gave the bag of edibles to officers. She discovered the package while she and her daughter went through the treats collected that night.
Cordeiro was surprised by the number of negative replies to her tweet.
After being accused of “a lot of unkind things,” two people who doubted her apologized when police alerted the public about the edibles, she said.
“People are going to believe what they’re going to believe,” she said. “Hopefully, the next time something happens they won’t be so quick to judge.”
“It made me kind of cynically laugh because the (THC) candy was in a Ziploc bag with two full-size chocolate bars for each kid… They did not run out of candy.”–Jocelyn Cordeiro
Cordeiro expects her family will be on “very high alert” while trick-or-treating next Halloween.
“It will definitely raise my anxiety around Halloween. I think that’s natural,” she said. “My main concern is I don’t want it to happen again.”
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.