St. Pete man arrested after 3-year-old eats synthetic marijuana

Christopher Lee Clark, Pinellas County Jail booking photo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Pinellas deputies arrested a St. Petersburg man for child neglect after a 3-year-old girl who was in his custody ingested synthetic marijuana.

Investigators say that the suspect, 45-year-old Christopher Lee Clark, had synthetic marijuana, also known as “spice” in his pocket. At some point on Saturday, the child took the spice from Clark’s pocket and ate it.

Clark is an admitted drug user, deputies said.

Detectives say the child became progressively sicker throughout the night. She began vomiting, and by Sunday morning she was lethargic and unresponsive. Clark called 911 late Sunday morning. The girl was unconscious when paramedics arrived.

The child was taken to All Children’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Detectives say the suspect admitted he purchased the spice. He also admitted he knew that the child had ingested the spice, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Throughout the investigation, detectives discovered that Clark had smoked spice on at least two occasions while the child was in his care and custody.

“If you consume enough of any of these medications that alter your mental status and depress your mental status, it could have effects on your breathing, so it could put you in a position where you’re unable to breathe or unable to adequately breathe,” Dr. Patrick Mularoni of All Children’s Hospital said.

Doctor Mularoni warned spice makers can put whatever they want into the drug, and kids can be affected more than adults. “Any drug or medication depends on your size so if you’re a smaller individual your obviously gonna get more of that drug in your system if it’s consumed,” he said.

And eating spice, rather than smoking it, can lead to serious problems. ”Eating spice is essentially very dangerous because the person who’s eating it doesn’t know the effect of it because it takes longer to affect them,” Dr. Mularoni said.

Clark is charged with child neglect and was taken to the Pinellas County Jail. He’s being held on $200,000 bond. In court, he tried to explain his side to the judge. “That ain’t the way it happened,” he said. But the Judge warned him not to argue his case.

Detectives say the child is expected to survive.

Nobody answered the door at Clark’s home Monday. There was trash on the porch and children’s items in the yard.

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