Guests were enjoying the pasta and bread with oil dip at Danya Svoboda's wedding earlier this year, until some attendees suddenly started feeling strange. They began to stumble around, dazed and wondering why they were so intoxicated after drinking only a few glasses of booze.
Jared Stout, who came down from Michigan for the Orlando-area wedding, was "shocked that his beer buzz hadn't worn off," according to Seminole County Sheriff's Office records.
Seminole Fire Rescue was called out to the Springs Clubhouse, where it found guests experiencing "symptoms consistent with that of someone who had used illegal drugs," police say.
One guest reported feeling "ill and stoned," while another reported "weird, tingly, fidgety" sensations and having "extreme dry mouth." Yet another guest said his heart started racing and that he had "crazy thoughts." Others said they were feeling high, nauseous, and dizzy.
There were roughly 50 people at the February wedding. One attendee estimated that about a half-dozen were transported to the hospital after vomiting or becoming severely disoriented.
Upon being confronted by a guest, caterer Joycelyn Bryant and Svoboda, the bride, admitted there was marijuana in the food, police say. The bride acted like the guest "should be excited as if she were given a gift," according to witness testimony in Svoboda's arrest report.
Bryant and Svoboda were arrested in April and charged with sale or delivery of marijuana and tampering with food, after authorities tested leftovers and found high levels of THC, a primary active ingredient in marijuana.
While Bryant's criminal case is still unfolding, the 31-year-old and her business, Joycelyn's Southern Kitchen (JSK), are now being sued by one of the wedding guests. The November 28 lawsuit alleges Bryant served food with "harmful levels of cannabis," to the plaintiff, Virginia Taylor-Svoboda.
"Plaintiff consumed the marijuana-laced food served by JSK and became immediately ill," the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit, which lists a single count for negligence, was filed by Taylor-Svoboda's attorney Joshua Jacobson at the Normand law firm in Orlando.
In the criminal cases, both women entered initial pleas of not guilty. The food tampering charges are first degree felonies
, the most severe felony classification in the state.
In anticipation of a potential criminal trial, the Seminole County Court scheduled a docket sounding hearing this morning for Svoboda. Bryant's next hearing is scheduled for late January.
While a single instance of marijuana consumption won't have profound or long-lasting health impacts, the psychoactive effects can be jarring with edible cannabis, particularly for those who are not experienced with it. Edibles can be much more intoxicating
than smoking marijuana flower because the digestive system metabolizes cannabis into a more potent form of the THC compound.
Bryant told the Orlando Voyager
in March 2021 that she started out delivering soul food meals to her peers in college, an operation which evolved into her catering business. She said she has worked as a tutor and cooking teacher, and helped out with classes at the local public library and the YMCA.
Bryant's website, which refers to her as a holistic chef, says her culinary roots are steeped in made-from scratch, Southern style cooking.
"The kitchen is an energy center — the heart of the home," the website reads. "It acts as a laboratory, a classroom, a communal space, and so much more! Let your mind expand into the possibilities of what can be birthed."