Mohegan Sun Bus Driver Who Ate Pot Gummies on the Job Given Probationary Sentence
A casino bus driver who ingested a whole pack of cannabis-infused gummies and nearly crashed his packed bus on Interstate 59 has been given a probationary sentence.
The incident occurred on March 13, 2022, when a routine bus journey from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut to Boston nearly ended in disaster.
Jinhuan Chen, a seasoned bus driver with a decade-long record of service at Go Go Sun, inadvertently consumed a whole bag of Smokies Edibles Cannabis-Infused Fruit Chews while driving his bus.
Chen, who cannot read fluent English, was unaware of the psychoactive nature of the sweets while eating them. He then experienced their effects while driving.
The bus, carrying more than 30 passengers, began swerving dangerously on Interstate 95, before Chen managed to stop and call for help. Connecticut State Police found him unconscious in the driver’s seat upon their arrival.
After being taken to Bridgeport Hospital, elevated levels of THC were detected in his system, leading to his arrest on 38 counts of reckless endangerment.
Judicial Response and Cultural Considerations
In court this week, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Reid acknowledged Chen’s language barrier and his lack of awareness about the gummies’ content.
Given his clean driving record and the unintended nature of the incident, Chen was granted accelerated rehabilitation with a two-year probation. The charges will be dismissed if he remains crime-free during this period. Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Cunniff agreed with this lenient approach.
“There is no evidence Mr. Chen knowingly ingested THC. He pulled over to the side of the road when he began feeling ill and called 911,” the prosecutor said.
The tour bus operator Go Go Sun Tour, who work very closely with the Mohegan Sun Casino, also defended its employees exemplary record before this incident.
“He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, but he has a sweet tooth and likes candy,” said Victor Chen, Go Go Sun Tour manager.
“He picked up a bag of candy at a local market here and didn’t know it had marijuana in it. This would never have happened a couple of years ago. But now, there’s marijuana everywhere here.”
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Inconsistent U.S Cannabis Laws
Chen’s defense highlights the complex and varying state laws regarding marijuana in the U.S.
While many states have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational use, there are significant differences in regulations, particularly around edibles like the THC-infused gummies consumed by Chen.
In Connecticut, for example, recreational marijuana became legal in July 2021. But the laws around its use and sale are still evolving. The discrepancy in laws across states adds to the confusion, especially for those who are not fluent in English or unfamiliar with the legal nuances of cannabis products.
The Nevada casinos of Las Vegas often grapple with a similar problem. Pot is recreationally legal in Nevada, but it remains illegal to consume in public. However, as there are currently no consumption lounges or legal places to consume on the Las Vegas Strip, the rule is widely flouted, leading to legal uncertainty (and more often than not, a rather fragrant smell on Las Vegas Boulevard).
Sin City did see a cannabis-friendly boutique hotel open earlier this year. However, even that opened with much confusion over its actual legality.
Mohegan Sun Casino
Meanwhile, the weed-free Mohegan Sun Casino, where the passengers had spent their day before boarding Chen’s bus, is one of the largest and most popular casino gaming destinations in the United States.
The Tribal casino, operated by the Mohegan Tribe, is a significant revenue driver for the region.
The crown jewel of Connecticut casinos, the Mohegan Sun offers a vast array of entertainment, dining, and shopping experiences, as well as a huge casino floor. The gaming facilities include more than 4,000 slots and 300 table games, as well as horse race betting.
This year, it even expanded its retail presence with a Tesla showroom, where visitors can browse latest models from the electric carmaker on sale.
The Mohegans just recently became only the second U.S. Tribal gaming operator to expand outside of the country. Their multibillion dollar Mohegan Inspire casino resort in Incheon, South Korea, opened this week for a soft launch.