The case is closed against Joseph D. Hudek IV, the 24-year-old man who had a meltdown on a Delta flight last July shortly after the plane took off from Seattle Tacoma International Airport. According to court records, he incited a brawl on the Beijing-bound flight that involved flight attendants getting punched, bottles of wine being broken over peoples' heads, and Hudek attempting to open an airplane door 30,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
Hudek pleaded guilty to four federal felonies this month and will be sentenced in May, which could send him to jail for up to 20 years.
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According to a defense Hudek tried to give, it was the pot's fault.
Before boarding his plane, Hudek purchased some weed candies, ate them, and texted his friends that "this will help me sleep to Beijing," according to court documents. Apparently, Hudek was fine when he boarded his plane, took his first class seat, and had a complimentary drink. But a short time later, Hudek went into the lavatory, and then exited shirtless and lunged towards the airplane's door handle, yelling that he wanted to get out.
Two flight attendants tried to stop Hudek, but the 280-pound man reportedly punched both of them, including one of them twice in the face. The flight attendants yelled for help and notified the pilot, who dumped 4,500 gallons of fuel over the ocean in an attempt to get back to Seatac as fast as possible, according to court documents.
A passenger tried to intervene but Hudek broke a bottle of wine over his head. One of the flight attendants ran with that idea and tried to stop Hudek by breaking two bottles of wine on his head. That did little to stop Hudek, who reportedly shouted "Don't you know who I am?"
Three more passengers came to the rescue, including one person who rammed Hudek with a food cart and another that sat on Hudek, pinning him to the floor.
The idea that he simply got too high was Hudek's first defense. He told the court that, "while on the airplane and after I had consumed the marijuana, I began to feel dramatically different." But according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney representing the Western District of Washington, the judge barred Hudek "from using a mental incapacity defense based on his voluntary consumption of marijuana."
The problem may have been that Hudek ate more because he didn't get high quickly enough; it can take over an hour for an edible to start to hit you, and in that time, many people make the mistake of over indulging. Who among us hasn't made the mistake of eating too much pot and getting way too high? While the particulars of the violent mid-flight struggle are shocking, there is a familiar pattern at play here.
Thankfully for the future Hudeks of the world, pot edibles don't have to be this way. It takes forever for an edible to get you high because those edibles must pass through your digestive system and your liver before the THC gets into your bloodstream. But the high can be delivered far quicker if the pot edible is made with something called a nanoemulsion.
In a nanoemulsion, pot chemicals like THC are broken down to a microscopic level and then suspended in an emulsion that makes the pot appear to be water soluble. The appearance of water solubility tricks your body into rapidly absorbing the pot chemicals directly into your blood stream, bypassing your liver and getting you high quicker.
The pharmaceutical industry has been using nanoemulsions to deliver drugs quickly for decades, and nanoemulsions can be incorporated into a whole range of edibles from solid cookies to liquids, according to Alexey Peshkovsky, a chemist with a Ph.D. from Columbia University who is the president of Industrial Sonomechanics, a company that sells machines that can make nanoemulsions.
"Nanoemulsions are more like injections, they come in quickly, after 15 minutes the onset of action kicks in, after 30 minutes it's clearly in," Peshkovsky said. "It doesn't keep growing."
Washington's weed market already has a few companies using nanoemulsions. Fairwinds Manufacturing sells a tincture that is a nanoemulsion, Discovery Garden sells topicals made with nanoemulsions, and Tarukino says their products Pearl2o and Velvet Swing Weed Lube have nanoemulsions.
Because the judge barred Hudek from using his weed consumption as a defense, we don't know exactly how much weed Hudek ingested or if he was on anything else. His attorney did not respond to questions about Hudek's drug use.
But a nanoemulsion may have gotten Hudek higher quicker and convinced him to ingest less, possibly avoiding this whole dangerous episode all together.