Casper Woman Gets Probation After Giving Pot Candy to Four-Year-Old Child
A woman who gave a THC-laced candy to a four-year-old child in February in order to "calm her down" was sentenced to probation Friday morning in Natrona County District Court.
Vanessa R. Smith, 30, was sentenced to two concurrent four-year terms of supervised probation, each with an underlying four- to five-year prison term.
Smith pleaded guilty in July to one count each of child endangerment with methamphetamine and delivering a controlled substance to a minor. In exchange for those pleas, the state agreed to drop three misdemeanor charges.
The suspended prison term was proposed by both Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk and public defender Kurt Infanger.
"Because she wanted her four-year-old daughter to calm down, she gave her a gummy that had THC in it," Schenk said before making his sentencing recommendation. "That, to me, is very egregious."
"It's hard for me to believe that a mother would do that," Schenk added. "Four-year-olds are going to act up. It's just what they do."
Charging papers say the Wyoming Department of Family Services called the Casper Police Department for assistance in late February after learning that the four-year-old girl had eaten a THC gummy the previous evening.
A woman who had been caring for the girl noticed the child had bloodshot eyes, spoke slowly and seemed lethargic. A man who had dropped the child off to that woman allegedly said Smith had given the girl a THC-laced candy the previous night.
The caretaker called the Wyoming Department of Family Services. The child reportedly provided a urine sample that tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and police took protective custody of the child that afternoon.
A search of Smith's home allegedly turned up marijuana and methamphetamine pipes, methamphetamine residue inside a jeweler's baggie, THC-laced gummies and unidentified white pills.
"She had been using methamphetamines; methamphetamines were in the home," Schenk said in court Friday, citing a number of "aggravating factors" in the case.
But since being released on bond following her arrest, Schenk and Infanger told the court, Smith has not tested positive for drug or alcohol use. Schenk said DFS feels Smith has made a significant effort to "step away from that kind of lifestyle."
Infanger presented Sullins with certificates of Smith's completion of drug treatment programs, including an in-patient treatment at Central Wyoming Counseling Center, anger management and parenting classes.
Smith is currently enrolled in outpatient treatment, Infanger said, and will complete relapse-prevention courses afterward. Infanger also said Smith has done well with the DFS case, which is set to be discharged in January, and is employed full-time.
Infanger made a point of acknowledging the seriousness of the offense, and emphasized that Smith "does not take any of this lightly."
In a statement written by Smith while she was in treatment, which Infanger read to the court on Friday, Smith detailed the impact of substance abuse and addiction on her relationship with her daughter.
"I was more just a shell that was taking care of my daughter," Smith said, "...breaking promises like going to the park or getting ice cream..."
She didn't know how to stop, and said she was too embarrassed to ask for help.
"I am thankful, in a way, to have gotten in trouble," Infanger read from Smith's statement. She called the intervention by authorities, "a blessing an an eye-opener."
"I love my daughter and want to be better for her," Smith's statement concluded.
Sullins, before sentencing Smith, noted that she has been "diligently applying herself" in an effort to overcome her addiction and take care of her child. Sullins credited Smith for having already completed the in-patient treatment and taking responsibility for her actions.