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Woman who accidentally gave out cannabis edibles to Winnipeg trick-or-treaters sentenced to $5K in fines

Court heard the cannabis edibles handed out were made to look nearly identical to Nerds-brand candy and can't be bought legally in Canada. (Jérémie Bergeron/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Court heard the cannabis edibles handed out were made to look nearly identical to Nerds-brand candy and can't be bought legally in Canada. (Jérémie Bergeron/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A woman who accidentally put cannabis candies in bags to hand out on Halloween after running out of loot for trick-or-treaters in 2022 broke down crying in a Winnipeg courtroom on Monday, as a judge asked her to imagine what might have happened if a young child had eaten the drug-laced candy she gave them.

Tammy Sigurdur was sentenced to pay a total of $5,000 in fines as part of a joint recommendation accepted by a judge for her role in handing out the cannabis edibles, which court heard were not Sigurdur's, are made to look nearly identical to regular Nerds-brand candy and can't be bought legally in Canada.

The edibles ended up in trick-or-treaters' bags after Sigurdur ran out of candy that night, then rushed to a closet in her house — which contained regular candy and the cannabis edibles — looking for extras to give out, court heard.

Without her glasses on, Sigurdur filled plastic zipped sandwich bags with various candy and gum she found in the closet — not realizing about a dozen of the bags had edibles in them before she gave them to her husband to hand out at the door.

Court heard the edibles had been bought for Sigurdur's husband, who didn't notice they were in the sandwich bags before giving them out. The mistake didn't come to light until a parent discovered one of the edibles in their child's candy stash and contacted police, Crown attorney Terry McComb said.

"I'm pretty sure that you've thought about this, innumerable, if not thousands of times: what would have happened had this parent not seen that label?" provincial court Judge Raymond Wyant said to Sigurdur in court on Monday.

"And the thought that some child [could have] ingested this THC, some very young child — [and that] it could have caused long-lasting injuries or death — is almost too frightening to even contemplate."

"Yes," Sigurdur replied through sobs. "It is."

Woman pleaded guilty last year

Police said at the time of the incident they got more than a dozen reports of cannabis candies being handed out to trick-or-treaters in Winnipeg's south Tuxedo neighourhood on Oct. 31, 2022. Officers later searched a home on Coleraine Crescent in connection with the reports.

Packaging suggested the edibles had 600 milligrams of the psychoactive property in cannabis known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. In Canada, edibles are legally only allowed to contain 10 milligrams per package.

Children who received the edibles were six to 16 years old, police said. None were harmed by the candies.

Court heard Sigurdur's error came to her attention after people started posting about the cannabis edibles found in children's Halloween candy on a community social media page and she recognized the zipped sandwich bags.

Shortly after, she and her husband went to police and gave detailed, lengthy statements about what happened.

Sigurdur pleaded guilty in September to possessing cannabis that's not packed, labelled and stamped and supplying the drug to a young person — offences under the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act — after being arrested along with her husband shortly after Halloween in 2022. Charges against Sheldon Chochinov were stayed in November.

'I should have been more careful'

Sigurdur's voice shook as she read a statement through tears in court on Monday, telling the judge how grateful she felt that no children were harmed because of her mistake.

"I don't expect forgiveness, and I'm not going to make excuses for what happened. I should have been more careful. I should have worn my glasses, and I shouldn't have been rushing around trying to find candy," said Sigurdur, as her son sat behind her in the gallery, at times holding back tears of his own.

"I also apologize if I have in any way caused distress to any children about Halloween and their safety and their enjoyment of the holiday. It was truly an accident, and at no time did I have any desire to harm anybody — especially children.

"No parent should have to worry about their child receiving such a dangerous substance in their Halloween bag, and that was never my intention."

Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds said his client's mental health was seriously affected by the incident, and that she had "tortured herself from the moment this occurred" at the thought that she could have, even accidentally, put any child at risk.

Judge Wyant said he accepted that the incident and its fallout had a traumatic effect on Sigurdur, but said he still wanted to underscore the risk of potentially letting cannabis edibles fall into the wrong hands.

"If anything good becomes of this hearing, and the publicity that surrounds it, maybe that's it…. An increased public awareness of the danger of these articles in the wrong hands, and that inadvertently, they can get into the wrong hands — in ways that sometimes we can never contemplate, but ultimately are responsible for," Wyant said.