August 5, 2021
-The Growth Op
Appearing in a military court on Wednesday, Bombardier Chelsea Cogswell is facing multiple charges, including administering a noxious substance and disgraceful conduct — although charges of neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline were withdrawn before the start of the trial, reports CBC News. She faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
Cogswell was charged as a result of an incident that took place in July 2018.
She was working a mobile canteen at the Combat Training Centre in New Brunswick where soldiers were participating in Exercise Common Gunner, a three-week-long training session.
Cogswell baked about a dozen chocolate cupcakes the night before the exercise and handed them out for free to her fellow soldiers while she worked the canteen, according to an agreed-upon statement of facts.
Not long after the cupcakes had been distributed, multiple soldiers reported symptoms including “dehydration, overheating, fatigue, confusion, dry mouth and paranoia,” per court records.
According to several members of Cogswell’s artillery unit who testified on Wednesday, the soldiers started to feel “spaced out,” “incoherent,” “paranoid,” “sluggish,” and “anxious” on the gun line. Additionally, multiple members are alleged to have made errors as a result of feeling ill.
When another unit arrived shortly thereafter, they too reported feeling unwell. After comparing symptoms, the troops started to suspect that the illness was a result of having consumed the cupcakes in the morning.
Military police were called in to investigate, and a cupcake wrapper was retrieved and sent to a Health Canada-run lab for analysis. The results indicated the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, the intoxicating compound in the cannabis plant.
Urinalysis of five other soldiers also came back positive for THC, CTV News reports.
The court is expected to hear from multiple alleged victims over the course of the trial, including an artillery member who had been in recovery for addiction for several years before the incident. A total of sixteen witnesses are expected to take the stand.
The court-martial is expected to last up to two weeks.