SULLIVAN, Maine — A local woman arrested Tuesday after her 13-year-old son allegedly brought her marijuana-laced brownies to school and ate them with other pupils said she is trying to get a medical marijuana user’s license.
In phone interviews Wednesday and Thursday, Amanda Hiser, 32, said she has lupus nephritis and is suffering from kidney failure. She says she gets nausea, has joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis, and gets regular blood transfusions. She cannot take pharmaceutical painkillers because of her kidney issues, she said, and is having difficulty raising the funds she needs to become registered as a medical marijuana user in Maine.
“It’s the only thing that helps, that keeps me functional,” the single mom said. “My doctors all know about it and have pushed me [to get a license].”
Hiser was released Tuesday evening from Hancock County Jail on $500 unsecured bail.
Hiser said she is sorry that her son took the brownies to Mountain View School and said it was an accident. Tuesday was the first time she had marijuana in her house and the first time she tried cooking the drug in a batch of brownies.
She said her son, who just started the eighth grade, often grabs snacks out of the cupboard before he leaves to go to the K-8 school and shares them with friends. The brownies, she said, were cooling on the stove Tuesday morning when he took them as he was headed out the door to catch the bus. She said she does not think he knew the brownies had marijuana in them.
Hiser said she left the house for the day soon thereafter and did not know her son had taken the brownies until she started getting phone calls that afternoon. She said she doesn’t know how many other students may have eaten the brownies.
“It’s obviously my fault,” Hiser said. “I want to apologize to the other parents and to their families.”
Hiser said an appointment to see a doctor who can approve her medical marijuana application costs $300.
She said she and her son have been receiving $350 each month in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding and that she has no other source of income. She has applied to Social Security for disability benefits but has yet to be approved, she said.
According to Hiser, her son was placed in foster care Tuesday by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services after she was arrested and taken to jail on a charge of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs. She said she was notified Thursday that her TANF benefits are being canceled because her son has been placed in foster care.
Hiser said she and her son have never been separated from each other overnight, but she did get to see him briefly Thursday morning.
“I know it’s hard on him,” she said. “He’s OK. He wants to come home.”
In the meantime, she said, she is trying to get a court-appointed attorney to represent her on the criminal charges. She said DHHS has scheduled a hearing next week to discuss her son’s custody situation.
Suzanne Lukas, superintendent of RSU 24, said Wednesday in a prepared statement that, after school officials interviewed students, several were suspended in connection with the marijuana brownies, and that their parents had been notified.
On Thursday, Lukas declined to say how many students were involved or how long they had been suspended for. She did say it was a “small group” of students and that the suspensions were for varying lengths of time, but she declined to provide more details that she said could identify who the students are.
Sgt. Tim Varney of the Maine State Police, which is investigating the incident, also declined Thursday to release further information about the case, saying it was still under investigation.
Attempts to contact others who might be familiar with Hiser’s legal and medical situation were unsuccessful.
In addition to being charged with aggravated trafficking of a scheduled drug, Hiser also was charged Tuesday with possession of a hypodermic device, according to Hancock County Jail records.
Attempts to determine why she was charged with possession of a hypodermic device have been unsuccessful. Hiser declined Thursday to comment about that charge.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.