Soldiers at bombardier’s sentencing describe lingering impact of cannabis-laced cupcakes – CBC.ca

Sentencing began Tuesday in the court martial of a base Gagetown soldier who was found guilty in August of distributing cupcakes laced with cannabis to soldiers on a training exercise in 2018. 

chelsea cogswell

Chelsea Cogswell, on the left in pink, was convicted of eight counts of administering a noxious substance to soldiers without ther consent and one count of behaving in a disgraceful manner. (Mia Urquhart/CBC)

Sentencing began Tuesday in the court martial of a base Gagetown soldier who was found guilty in August of distributing cupcakes laced with cannabis to soldiers on a training exercise in 2018. 

Bombardier Chelsea Cogswell of Oromocto was convicted of eight counts of administering a noxious substance to soldiers without their consent, and one count of behaving in a disgraceful manner.

The prosecution read victim impact statements from five of the eight soldiers who consumed the cannabis cupcakes. 

Many said their trust in the chain of command and their colleagues had been shaken, and they suffered from anxiety because of the cannabis experience.

Master Bombardier William Long wrote that he had been sober for eight years before the incident, and it was not widely known he was in recovery.

He said other members of the Armed Forces who knew about what happened made light of it, and senior members even made a video mocking the event for a Christmas party. 

Lt.-Col. Katherine Haire was the commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery school between the summer of 2019 and 2021 at the 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown. 

She told the court the reputation of the school was damaged, and the credibility of the Canadian military had been eroded. 

Defence counsel Ian Kasper asked her about the video that was made making fun of the event. Haire said she wasn’t aware of it. 

At the time of the incident, Cogswell was in charge of the roving canteen that went between units in the field to provide drinks and snacks.

She was found to have put cannabis into cupcakes she had baked at home and distributed to soldiers when they were on a live-fire exercise. 

She didn’t tell them about the cannabis.

During the court martial proceedings in August, the soldiers said they felt paranoia, anxiety, fatigue, and drunkenness starting about 30 minutes after eating the cupcakes.

Cogswell’s counsel read several letters of character support from her family, including her husband, her mother, father and her sister. 

The court heard that she struggled with mental illness for years. 

Defence counsel called military psychiatrist Dr. Vinod Joshi, who has treated Cogswell off and on since 2012, as a witness.