Canadian soldier charged with feeding cannabis cupcakes to artillery unit during live-fire exercise
Members of the Royal Canadian Artillery School participate in Exercise Common Gunner in July 2018, when the offences occurred at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick. (Cpl. Genevieve Lapointe/DND Canada)
VICTORIA -- A Canadian army gunner is facing more than a dozen charges after she allegedly served cannabis-laced cupcakes to her unsuspecting artillery unit during a live-fire exercise.
Court documents allege a sudden onset of paranoia, fatigue and confusion among the troops who ate the cupcakes, unaware of their psychoactive contents.
"Several affected members were allegedly unable to properly execute safe weapons and explosive handling drills," according to a military judge’s summary of the charges.
The incident marks the first time that a Canadian Armed Forces member has been charged with administering marijuana to colleagues without their consent, according to the Office of the Judge Advocate General.
Bombardier Chelsea Cogswell is facing 18 charges in all, including eight counts of administering a noxious substance, nine counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, and one count of behaving in a disgraceful manner.
The allegations stem from a July 2018 incident at the army’s Combat Training Centre at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick.
According to court documents, Cogswell was working the canteen during Exercise Common Gunner, an intensive three-week combat training scenario with the Royal Canadian Artillery School.
Cogswell, who has served in the army’s regular forces since June 2011, allegedly prepared the cupcakes and distributed them to colleagues in her artillery battery.
"All the members of W Battery who consumed the cupcakes, except one, allegedly experienced symptoms which included dehydration, overheating, fatigue, confusion, dry mouth and paranoia," according to court records.
Medical staff treated all of the troops who reported symptoms of intoxication and the military police were called.
According to a spokesperson for the Judge Advocate General’s office, Cogswell was not serving in a supervisory role with the artillery school at the time of the alleged offences, and she remains a Canadian Armed Forces member.
"A review of our court martial records indicate that this is the first time a member has faced a court martial for allegedly administering cannabis to colleagues without their consent," said spokesperson Wendy Wharton in an email to CTV News.
The court martial is scheduled to begin in New Brunswick in August. None of the allegations have been proven or tested in court.
If found guilty, Cogswell faces up to two years in prison or lesser punishment.