Drug War

Mythical Meth, Cannabis Candy, and Ludicrous Legislators


The Saving Kids From Dangerous Drugs Act, introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to fight the apparently mythical menace of candy-flavored methamphetamine, has undergone a noteworthy change. The version (PDF) introduced last January doubled sentences for drug offenders who "knowingly or intentionally manufacture, create, distribute, dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, create, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II that is a) combined with a candy product; b) marketed or packaged to appear similar to a candy product; or c) modified by flavoring or coloring the controlled substance with the intent to distribute, dispense, or sell the controlled substance to a person under 21 years of age" (emphasis added). Under that bill, medical marijuana distributors who sell cannabis-infused candies (a popular way of consuming the drug without smoking) to adult patients would have been treated like dealers who sell drugs to 10-year-olds. But in the version of the bill that emerged from the Senate Judicary Committee last week, the or has been replaced by an and. This change reduces but does not eliminate the threat to medical marijuana sellers, since some of the patients they supply are younger than 21 and it is unclear how intent would be proven.

While that amendment shows some sensitivity to the real-world effects of this legislation, the sponsors' ostensible motivation remains absurdly disconnected from reality. Here is how Feinstein and Grassley described their purpose last month:

"This bill sends a strong and clear message to drug dealers—if you target our children by peddling candy-flavored drugs, there will be a heavy price to pay," Senator Feinstein said. "The legislation increases criminal penalties for anyone who markets candy-flavored drugs in an effort to hook our young people."

"New techniques and gimmicks to lure our kids into addiction are around every corner. We must do everything we can to end the practice of purposely altering illegal drugs to make them more appealing to our youth."

"Drug dealers who target children by flavoring drugs to taste like candy have sunk to a new low. These dealers need to know that when you prey on our youth, you risk serious prison time. This legislation should make drug dealers think twice about selling candy flavored drugs to our kids," Senator Grassley said. 

In the world imagined by Feinstein and Grassley, kids do not use drugs because it feels good; they use drugs because it tastes good. Furthermore, they are so repelled by the very notion of using drugs that they have to be tricked into trying them by candy camouflage, after which they are irretrievably hooked and keep coming back for more. This understanding of how people start to use drugs also was reflected in the Texas PTA's credulous propagation of an urban legend about "a new drug known as 'strawberry quick,'" a.k.a. "strawberry meth," that "smells like strawberry" and "is being handed out to kids in school yards." Kids who did not care for strawberry supposedly could also choose from "chocolate, peanut butter, cola, cherry, grape and orange." The Texas PTA breathlessly reported that "kids are ingesting this thinking that it is candy and are being rushed off to the hospital in dire condition." Does this scenario resemble anyone's actual experience with drugs?

[Thanks to Joe Leibrandt for the tip.]


NEXT: The FARCing Dangerous Borders of Venezuela

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. This bill sends a strong and clear message to drug dealers?if you target our children by peddling candy-flavored drugs, there will be a heavy price to pay”

    So this bill is specifically targeted at those drug dealers who do not realize what they are doing is illegal?

    1. Any official who makes a statement about sending serious messages to drug dealers via legislation should have to pass a blood test and/or share whatever they are taking with everyone.

      1. share whatever they are taking

        Jeezus, you’d take a hit of something that makes someone THAT stupid?

    2. As an aside, since when did we accept the notion that the purpose of criminalizing is to “send a message?” Did we criminalize murder to “send a message” to hit men? If you want to send a message, send a telegram.

  2. Frankly, I’m amazed that Congress doesn’t pass a “Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act” every month. And maybe a “Saving Cute Puppies from Sexual Molestation Act” as well.

  3. So this won’t cut into my balls-flavored jenkem biz. Cool.

    1. Yeah you’re good.

      By the way, I’m getting low, I’ll need a re-up soon.

  4. First off where do I start Meth is a horrible drug and to lump medical cannibas with meth is just insain (NO COMPARISON). This is in my opinion not to target kids but patients with chronic conditions, or those who choose to ingest medical marijuana through edible means such as baked goods. But those who take Oxycontin, Ambien, or any number of pills which are far more dangerous drugs, are allowed to do so at a friends or relatives home, and there’s no legitimate reason to saddle medical marijuana this is absurd. It is articals like this that makes it seem that it is targeting the kids! In Fact it is to scare you into believing what they want you to think.

    1. Why do you think they call it dope?

      1. Does anybody really call it dope?

      2. To any real drug user or dealer, “dope” is heroin.

  5. Does this scenario resemble anyone’s actual experience with drugs?

    Well, I saw something like that in a movie when I was high once.

    1. Does acid on a sugar cube count?

      1. Mushroom kool-aid?

      2. Is there sugar in candy?? Then, yes!

  6. Amphetamines show virtually no tendency to produce addiction/abuse when taken orally anyway; only when taken in ways that get them into the bloodstream more quickly do they become dangerous. A fact I guess our system very vaguely acknowledges, since despite its schedule 2 DEA status it is relatively easy for people to get prescriptions for oral amphetamines.

    1. In a Libertopia, with the removal of all legal controls on chemicals and vegitable products, I’d bet that amphetamines are probably the only “hard narcotic” that would see a significant increase in use. Meth is just a nasty substitute for amphetamines and its use would probably drop to zero.

      1. Meth is just a nasty substitute for amphetamines

        see what addiction does to their brain?

  7. Wait, that’s the real name of a proposed law? Did Helen Lovejoy sponsor it?

  8. Any chance somebody can direct me to one of these streetcorners where the free drugs are being handed out? I’m willing to travel, and candy coating is strictly optional.

  9. Kids like strawberry? But I thought they avoided all fruits and vegetables unless the government teaches them to eat right. These guys have to get their theories straight.

  10. Congress should pass a federal law that prohibits space aliens giving interstellar drugs like bloodhype to minors. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean the nefarious Meliorare Society or the AAnn won’t soon be trying it.

    1. We should criminalize nuke, too. Banning fictional drugs should prevent them from becoming real drugs.

      1. Haha, damn you beat me too it. I’ll rail against that “Valkyr” stuff from the Max Payne games I guess.

  11. Does this scenario resemble anyone’s actual experience with drugs?

    Well, maybe for these guys

  12. It still cracks me up that the primary binder in IR Adderal is sucrose.

    It’s speed that has been manufactured to look and taste like candy. It’s been given to kids by the truck load but it’s no big deal because the right people are pushing it.

    Don’t mind all those little kids with sweet, blue boogers… nothing to see here.

  13. So, if someone offered the Obama kids some arugula-flavored meth…

  14. Actually, I think it’s entirely reasonable to pass a law like this. After all, once the government prohibits the sale of candy to children, these drugs will be the only place they can satisfy their sweet tooth. 😛

  15. if you target our children by peddling candy-flavored drugs, there will be a heavy price to pay

    Well, there goes bubble gum flavored cough syrup.

    Does anyone know if they’re going to target Flinstone vitamins too?

  16. Why aren’t they going after brewers for making those delicious seasonal beers? Sam Adams is “around every corner,” pushing flavored suds to the nation’s youth!

    1. That was the argument the Anti-Saloon League made in favor of prohibition in the 1910’s — that the evil, German-speaking brewers were making tasty beers in order to push their product on children, turn them into lifelong alcoholics, guarantee themselves a future market for their evil product, and send the resulting profits to the Kaiser.

      1. If you prefer British-style ales, does that mean you’re in league with the Queen?

  17. “In the world imagined by Feinstein and Grassley, kids do not use drugs because it feels good; they use drugs because it tastes good.”

    There is another absurdity in laws like this: that the only people who are attracted to sweet-tasting products are minors. As if those of us over the age of 18 or 21 swore off desserts, candy, soda, cakes, pies, etc., once we reached adulthood. This is the same “logic” that led flavored cigarettes and alcoholic sodas to be condemned as “marketing” to children.

  18. You know what the real problem with this bill is? Its name doesn’t make a catchy acronym.

  19. I never smoked pot until one dude coated it in molasses. It just tasted so damn good. Now I’m an addict.

    1. …ahh. Just one more example of the loss of our children to drugs.

  20. This is making me think about a line extension.

  21. Some of my favorites as a kid…Sensimillionaire Bar, Chick-O-Thai-Stick, Nutty Buds

  22. First of all, using the “strawberry meth” as an example only shows that here we have two lawmakers who not only have no clue what they are doing, they also don’t care to learn facts before going off on something.
    It is virtually impossible for anyone to make meth taste like strawberry or any other flavor that any child would actually like. The “stories” of strawberry meth started when a couple of cops made a bust and the meth they recovered was a pinkish color. They immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was “strawberry” when in actuality it could have been pink for any number of reasons; none of which being that is tasted like strawberry. So now, parents across the country are scared to death, the government is just exploiting this MYTH and the poor folks needing medicinal marijuana in a non-smokable, flavored form are at risk of being arrested. What is this country coming to?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.