What’s the Halloween season without a good scare? So asks the media hype machine who have a new spin on the old poisoned candy urban legend. This year, trick-or-treaters are told they won’t just be dodging candy apples imbedded with razor blades and cyanide-soaked sweets but also inconspicuous marijuana edibles. While 2018 doesn’t hold the distinction of being the only year to carry the ghastly warnings of unassuming marijuana edibles finding their way into the bags of innocent trick-or-treaters, more marijuana legalization means more threat. Or does it?
UPDATE: Years Later and Still No Issues
We published this blog a few years back and, as we predicted, there have been no confirmed incidents of trick-or-treaters being dosed with cannabis candy nor have the panic-inducing warnings ceased. In fact, any reported incidents of children visiting emergency rooms for consumption of cannabis edibles have occurred through a child stumbling onto an insecure stash within their own home, far outside the confines of the Halloween holiday. Restrictions on edibles have tightened up considerably since we first published this blog but it never hurts to be vigilant with what your children are consuming. The takeaway: keep protecting your children but let's not demonize people who choose to use cannabis, whether for recreational or medical purposes.
The Copy Cat Packaging of Marijuana Edibles
The Nebraska Regional Poison Center issued a standard caution to parents, urging them to be extra vigilant in checking their children’s loot this Halloween. While the old favorites made the list (toss homemade treats, check for tampered wrappers, etc.) a new kid in town topped their warnings list; marijuana edibles that sneakily resembled popular brand name candies. To their credit, the edibles they used as examples did require a double-take with flashy packaging and stylized logos that mimicked their weed-free inspiration. However, a look any longer than a glance immediately revealed that a “Keef- Kat” was markedly different than a Kit-Kat. It’s tough to believe that someone could mistakenly tear open a “Buddahfinger” without noticing that they were actually holding an imposter. Slow news days have determined that the copy-cat packaging is the perfect cover for clandestine Halloween crimes perpetrated by a malicious sub-society of stoner, obsessed with using their personal stashes to get the neighborhood children high.
The Truth Behind the Urban Legend
The warning is nothing new, even if it’s coming in a packaging that resembles previous admonitions as much as a “3 Rastateers” resembles a 3 Musketeers candy bar. Marijuana edibles are just an extension of the urban legend of contaminated candy that has gripped concerned parents for decades. Accepting candy from strangers, even under the sanctity of the Halloween holiday and the patrolling eyes of vigilant parents, can be a scary leap of faith.
Should parents be checking their children’s candy for contaminants? It doesn’t hurt. Fortunately, Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware has some relieving news. His studies have found him focused predominately on the cultural legend of contaminated candy and he’s researched virtually every potential case from the late ‘50s through the early ‘80s. While speaking with Independent
in 2012, Best summed up his investigation with his statement, “I can’t find any evidence that any child has ever been injured by a contaminated treat picked up on Halloween.”
An Offensive Accusation
But that was 2012. Since then, more states have legalized marijuana and cleverly packaged marijuana edibles are more readily available in such states. What’s to stop a bud-smoking boogie man from dropping a “Reefer’s Peanut Butter Cup” into an unsuspecting child’s loot bag? Possibly the same thing that’s stopped an entire society to refrain from shoving broken glass into Tootsie Rolls or strychnine into Smarties. The accusation that medical marijuana patients as well as recreational users would be predisposed to harm children is a gross prejudice that is, at the bottom line, highly offensive.
The accusations are also unfounded. In 2014, billboards were actually erected in certain cities warning parents about the weed-puffing weirdos chomping at the bit to gift trick-or-treaters with handfuls of marijuana edibles. Yet, the aftermath revealed no accounts of marijuana-dosed children in the wake of the trick-or-treating festivities.
The High Cost of Crime
Those who can’t bring themselves to expect common social decency from a marijuana user may at least breathe a sigh of relief when they recognize that marijuana edibles aren’t cheap. A Snickers bar typically costs a little over $1.00 while a “Stoners” bar (the THC-infused Snickers knock-off) sets consumers back $10.00 easily. That’s a lot of cash to sink into duping trick-or-treaters. It’s also well known that houses handing out full-sized Snickers bars are the holy grail of a trick-or-treating experience, so a child would probably have no problem remembering the house where he scored the full-sized candy bar that made him sick.
This urban legend isn’t going anywhere so we can expect many more years of rumored candy contamination horror stories. However, with no documented cases of marijuana edibles being pushed on trick-or-treaters, the tales seem to be more sheet ghosts than actual phantoms. Parents should always check what their children are eating but shouldn’t hold their breath waiting to find any cannabis candy.