The cake wasn’t the only thing baked, when Laurelville, Ohio Police Chief Mike Berkemeier accidentally ate a space cake on Easter morning. Actually, he did not stop at a mere slice, but ate the whole thing. Soon thereafter, he started to feel sick. While in the hospital, the chief’s daughter called to say that the her father had accidentally eaten a cake laced with cannabis oil, a marijuana plant extract. Of course, the daughter’s “friend” had dropped off the cake.
The popularity of marijuana edibles has exploded in recent years, corresponding to the growth of cannabis dispensaries in states with legalized medical marijuana. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that it is far healthier for a sick person to ingest THC, rather than inhaling it. Also, some recreational users enjoy the fact that ingested marijuana provides a longer lasting and different kind of high than smoking the plant. Of course, the problem is that sometimes people not only unwittingly ingest a cannabis edible, but they eat way more than any recommended therapeutic dose. On the bright side, no one in the history of the world has ever died of a cannabis overdose.
I find several things puzzling about this case, which sounds more like an urban legend than actual reality. First of all, why did the chief’s daughter leave a cannabis cake sitting in the kitchen, when he father is a police chief? Secondly, how could the chief not taste the cannabis oil? Marijuana has a very distinctive taste and smell, and one would assume that a veteran member of law enforcement, of all people, would recognize it at some point, while devouring the entire cake.
Even if it turns out that the chief’s daughter’s friend really is the one who made the cake, and not the daughter herself, this does not give the daughter a defense. If someone gives you an illegal drug, or if you are “holding it for someone else,” you are still guilty of possession. No one can legally “own” contraband; you can only possess it. Thus, even if drugs belong to someone else, you can still be guilty of possession just by knowingly having them at your place or on your person.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, PA, with extensive experience in drug cases. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/Drug-Possession.shtml