DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. - Even though surveys show a growing number of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized, few people support selling pot to kids.
Yet, that's what the FOX 5 I-Team found happening in metro schools: a drug operation targeting teenagers through the manufacturing and sale of marijuana-laced foods.
The company is called Trill Treats. The official Trill Treats Instagram page included a list of products and prices, marijuana edibles such as brownies, Fruity Pebble treats and cinnamon buns. The company even asked customers to fill out a survey, including a list of high schools. Where do you go to school? Grady? Westlake? Langston Hughes?
Kids as the target audience.
“It’s a click away,” complained one parent.
And so is the danger. Last summer a group of metro teenagers took part in a Sweet 16 birthday sleepover at a Cobb County hotel, some of the parents serving as chaperons in the next room.
After midnight, one of the teens became strangely sick.
“She was hallucinating,” said one of three parents the FOX 5 I-Team interviewed about that night. We agreed not to use their names.
“She was having little fits. She was kind of scratching herself a little bit. And I was like what's wrong? What's wrong? What's going on?”
According to their report, paramedics found the 16-year-old suffering from seizures. They rushed her to the emergency room where she recovered.
It took the parents a bit longer.
“Did she scare you?”
“Absolutely.” one of the chaperons replied. “My reaction was I cannot believe that somebody has gotten sick like this and can possibly die on my watch.”
The kids finally fessed up. They had ordered $100 worth of pot-infused snacks online from Trill Treats and had them delivered right to the hotel.
“And we teach Stranger Danger and ya'll just going to let the stranger come to the hotel like I paid all this money to bring this clown to the hotel to literally destroy this whole night?” complained another parent, clearly still upset months later.
Pot-laced foods -- called edibles -- are legal in states like Colorado, but because it takes longer to feel the high compared to smoking marijuana, sometimes people eat too much.
One man fell to his death from a fourth-floor hotel balcony in Denver when he began hallucinating after eating an entire marijuana cookie. He was only supposed to eat a small portion.
“They had 10 of these containers and there wasn't a morsel left,” remembered one of the parents about that ill-fated Sweet 16 party in Cobb County.
“Not a crumb?”
“Not a crumb.”
Remember that list of high schools on the Trill Treats Instagram page? The parents say they learned the operation has high school students selling the edibles to kids, right under the noses of teachers and administrators.
“They just send a text, or Instagram message, and they say meet me by the cafeteria or meet me by the gym,” explained one of the parents. “So it's no one that's coming to the school. They're ALREADY THERE.”
How easy is it? A FOX 5 employee was quickly accepted as one of Trill Treats 4700 Instagram followers.
We alerted law enforcement about our project, placed an order, then waited in a Douglasville shopping center parking lot for delivery.
And up walked 19-year-old Addea Simmons with our box of brownies. Barely an adult himself, Simmons is the admitted baker and apparent brains of a fast-growing operation.
“A lot of people buy from you? High schoolers, too?” our undercover buyer asked.
“Yeah, I started in high school doing this s---, so when I graduated people knew about it and I kept people selling for me.”
"So you like do the colleges and everything, right?”
“Well, I have my sellers who do it but I make sure, yeah, I be doing it." Simmons explained.
We wound up with 12 large individually wrapped brownies. Cost: $100 cash, plus $5 for delivery.
To see what we got for our money, the FOX 5 I-Team took the food to Salvus Labs in Marietta. On the way, we added in 12 brownies and other treats we bought from a grocery store.
The lab found no marijuana in those control products. However, the Trill Treats brownies revealed THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, with levels at least three times the accepted dosage in pot-legal states like Colorado.
How confident are these results?
“Absolutely confident,” assured clinical toxicologist Dr. Phillip Gibbs. He works for Clinical Lab Consulting (CLC) and was brought in by Salvus Labs to conduct the tests.
“They're unambiguous. Certainly for someone who's not -- or a naive user -- I would say that would be a tremendous amount of THC to ingest in one sitting.”
Dr. Gibbs pointed out the danger is growing.
“You’re seeing that more across the country, people presenting to emergency rooms because they’re not familiar with how these products are different.”
The lab alerted Douglas County authorities about its findings and had them take possession of the drugs.
Two months later the FOX 5 I-Team watched Simmons make another delivery. But this time we weren't the only ones nearby.
Undercover Douglasville police officers conducted their own sting, teaming up with the Fulton County police because Simmons lives in Fairburn. Fulton County even deployed a helicopter to follow Simmons and see whether he made edible deliveries anywhere else.
Simmons was charged with five felonies, including two counts of selling a Schedule 1 controlled substance because police say his products contain pure THC. In the Fairburn home he shared with his family, Fulton County authorities seized boxes of baking items and more than a dozen crock pots.
He's in the Douglas County jail without bond.
Jail's no treat but perhaps a safer place than encountering a group of parents still seething over what they say happened to their kids.
"I would have picked him up by throat and slammed him up against the wall and I would have let him know you put my kid's life in your hands."