Cannabis in Food Sickens Florida Wedding Guests, Police Say

Soon after a meal of meatballs, bread, tortellini and Caesar salad, the guests at the wedding of Andrew and Danya Svoboda began to feel strange, according to the authorities in Seminole County, Fla.

One man, an uncle of the groom visiting from Michigan, said he felt “tingly.” His heart raced and he was “having crazy thoughts,” the police said in an affidavit.

Another guest began feeling nauseated and dizzy even though she had drunk only one glass of red wine. Another woman said her heart felt like it was going to stop.

The guests at the Feb. 19 wedding soon learned that the food included marijuana, according to an arrest affidavit written by Detective Daniel Anderson.

Ms. Svoboda, 42, of Longwood, Fla., and the caterer, Joycelyn Bryant, 31, have been charged with two felonies — food tampering and the delivery of marijuana — and culpable negligence, a misdemeanor. They were arrested on Monday and will be arraigned in June. Ms. Svoboda and Ms. Bryant did not respond to messages for comment.

No lawyer was listed for Ms. Svoboda, according to court records in the 18th Judicial Circuit Court in Seminole County. A lawyer listed for Ms. Bryant did not respond to a phone message or an email for comment.

The arrests, which were reported Wednesday by WESH-2, an NBC affiliate in Orlando, come as more states make marijuana legal and as the House of Representatives passed legislation recently to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, an effort to capitalize on the political resonance of legalized cannabis as an issue of economic growth and racial justice.

But the effects that the guests at the Florida wedding reported underscored warnings from some in the medical community about the potential dangers of ingesting or smoking marijuana, which can include disorientation, vomiting and impaired driving as well as more serious health issues such as cancer and pregnancy problems.

The police said that several of the 50 guests at the wedding reported that they felt high after eating the food at the reception, which was held at a clubhouse in Longwood, a city of about 15,000 people 15 miles north of Orlando.

The police arrived around 9:30 that night after they got a call to assist from Seminole County Fire Rescue, which had been dispatched to the clubhouse.

A deputy approached Mr. Svoboda and asked if he and his wife had “consented or requested” cannabis in their food.

Mr. Svoboda stared back “with a blank expression for a few moments before stuttering through a ‘no,’” Detective Anderson wrote.

Mr. Svoboda was not arrested, according to the affidavit. The police collected lasagna and bread that had been tossed out after the wedding and sent them to a cannabis testing facility, which found the presence of THC in the food, Detective Anderson said.

No one announced at the wedding that there would be marijuana in the food, the detective wrote. One guest became so alarmed by the side effects of the drug that her husband called the paramedics, according to the affidavit.

One of the guests, who was identified as Miranda Cady in the affidavit, said she realized she was “stoned” after she ate bread and dipped it in oil.

When she asked Ms. Svoboda if she had put marijuana in the olive oil, the bride replied yes and “acted like Miranda Cady should be excited,” the affidavit said, “as if she were given a gift.”

Ms. Cady said she also approached Ms. Bryant, who she saw putting a green substance on to small plates, and asked if there was marijuana in the food.

Ms. Bryant “giggled” and “shook her head yes,” according to the affidavit.

When Ms. Cady learned she had consumed food that included cannabis she said she became “terrified” and went to her car to try and sleep.

“She sent a text to herself in case she died in her car so that someone would know what happened to her,” Detective Anderson wrote.

On her website, Ms. Bryant described herself as a “holistic chef” who began her business in 2013.

“Through passion, consistency and organic evolution, JSK has since grown to encompass an expanded set of services and offerings that are increasingly plant-based,” the website said, referring to her business, Joycelyn’s Southern Kitchen. The site described the kitchen as “a laboratory, a classroom” and “a communal space.”

“Let your mind expand into the possibilities of what can be birthed,” the website stated.