A Canadian soldier is facing court martial after alleging serving cannabis-laced cupcakes to unwitting members of her artillery unit during a live fire exercise.
Bombardier Chelsea Cogswell faces 18 charges for her baking, including administering a noxious substance and behaving in a disgraceful manner.
Cogswell, who has served in the Canadian military since 2011, was working in the canteen during the multi-week “Exercise Common Gunner” at a military base in Gagetown, New Brunswick, in July 2018. The event is part of the Royal Canadian Artillery School’s officer training.
Cogswell is accused of preparing the cupcakes while she was working in the canteen and distributing them to unsuspecting members of her artillery battery. She has not commented publicly on the case.
“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 documents.
Images of “Exercise Common Gunner” show troops, including W Battery, firing howitzer guns with 155mm rounds.
“Several affected members were allegedly unable to properly execute safe weapons and explosive handling drills,” wrote Commander Sandra Sukstorf, a military judge. “That afternoon, the affected members were treated by a medical technician and the military police were called.”
The incident is believed to be the first time a Canadian Forces member has been charged with administering cannabis to colleagues without their consent, a military spokesperson told CTV News.
Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use in October 2018, three months after Cogswell is accused of making the cupcakes. Soldiers in the Canadian military are now permitted to use cannabis, but are prevented from doing so at least 24 hours before operating a weapon or vehicle and eight hours before duty.
Under Canada’s criminal code, Cogswell faces a maximum of two years for administering a noxious substance and “dismissal with disgrace” from the military under the National Defence Act.
Cogswell was due to face court martial last year, but the hearings have since been delayed due to coronavirus restrictions, a change in counsel and a legal challenge.
Her court martial is now scheduled for 3 August 2021 in Oromocto, New Brunswick.