Colorado Pilot Fired after Accidentally Eating Marijuana Candy

By Kaitlyn M.
A 29-year-old man's dream of becoming a pilot was put on halt after THC was found in his system which he says he didn't mean to take.

Marijuana edibles have always been a convenient way to get pain relief or get high. Many people also love that eating a cookie or candy is judgment-free compared to lighting up a joint or hitting a bowl. But there have been issues with packaging not making the user aware of there being THC in the product.

Many kids or even unsuspecting adults take a few candies because they look good and then accidentally get high. That recently happened to a Colorado man and the incident, unfortunately, cost him his job.  

Pilot Fired for Having THC in His System Accidentally


Nate Cupps is 29 years old and was elated when his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot was starting to come true. Great Lakes Airlines had hired Cupps to be a pilot for their airline which made him happy beyond words.

He said, “I knew the hard work was going to pay off and the sweat equity that I put in was going to come about. I got hired. I passed my checkride. I got in. And I was in love, man.”

The airline started dealing with hiring issues and had to let a lot of people go. However, due to some pilots leaving the company, Great Lakes Airlines gave Nate Cupps another chance and hired him once again. Cupps only needed to go through standard drug testing before he would be given the job and he was not concerned at all.

Cupps added, “You just need to take a pre-employment drug test so we can get you on the line. I'm like, 'perfect man’ ”. But sadly, everything was far from perfect for Cupps when he got the phone call a few days later that he did not pass the drug test.

He said, “We found THC, marijuana in your urine.’ For a second, I couldn't breathe. And I said, 'Ma'am, with all due respect, I've never done any illegal substance in my life, there's a mistake here.'”

According to Fox News, the lab did a second test to make sure, and there was definitely THC in his system. After these tests, Nate Cupps not only lost the job he hasn’t even started, but he also lost his medical certification which prevents him from flying with any airline. Cupps is devastated for working towards this dream of his for so long, to only be forced out before he even began.

Cupps said, “I felt completely defeated. I felt like, all this work done and now it's like to ashes. To ashes.” What was really baffling him was how the THC got into his system in the first place. Cupps does not use marijuana or any illegal substances so he was very confused about how this happened to him.

Discovering What Happened and the Next Steps


Finally, after a lot of thought, he found out what happened. Cupps stated that he went to the casinos with a friend over the weekend. His friend left out some candies that he thought looked good so he tried one.

Cupps added that it looked like regular candy and so he took it seeing as there was no sign that it had anything irregular in it.

“It just tasted like a regular piece of candy. Didn't smell like it was a THC or [a] marijuana edible. I'd never seen it in my life, man. It looked good, so I had one”, he said.

But his friend did tell him once he asked later on that it was a candy that contains THC. His friend stated that he uses them to deal with the pain that he suffers from. While taking candy from a friend seems simple enough, it created a lot of issues for this man and his entire career.

After discovering the source of the THC in his system, Cupps went back to the airline and told them the truth, which wasn’t believed by many at first. Robert Sancetta is a physician at the Federal Aviation Administration who spoke to Cupps and did not believe his story. But after a while, Sancetta started to see that Cupps was not lying.

Sancetta said, “My bias right off the bat is, 'The story can't be right. He's lying to me. Over time, Nate appeared to be honest. And it was a huge leap on my end to present this to the FAA as an incidental exposure.”

Luckily, the FAA saw that Cupps was telling the truth and finally allowed him to have his medical certification back. This blew Nate Cupps away and he was beyond thankful that this accidental consumption of THC did not ruin his dream.


Cupps said when he found out the news he cried tears of joy.  “Oh, I just cried man. Just kind of sobbed. In joy and in pain. This 8-month fight -- it was just grueling,” he said.

Cupps will have to do regular drug testing for the next year to make sure he is not using whatsoever.  Even though he is not a pilot yet, he is hoping to find somewhere to finish out his dream. Something to note in this story is how the candies looked like regular candy.

Edibles in any form are amazing, but there should be regulations on how they look. With candy, maybe there should be a stamped symbol on them so it cannot be mistaken for regular candy. We need to make sure that someone absentmindedly taking a candy, doesn’t find out later it had THC in them without being warned first.


1. Colorado pilot fired, loses license for unknowingly eating marijuana edible. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from

2.Fox News Pilot loses license for eating marijuana edible by accident. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from

3.Joan Lawy Report: FAA is not yet prepared for major air traffic outages. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from

About the author: Kaitlyn M.

Kaitlyn is one of our regular contributors to cover Products and Lifestyle. She's living in the palmy Florida.