Police Warnings Save Children From Pot-Laced Halloween Treats Once Again


Denver Police Department

As I noted in a column a couple of weeks ago, law enforcement agencies have been warning parents for years that strangers with cannabis candy might try to get their kids stoned on Halloween by passing off marijuana edibles as ordinary treats. At that point no actual cases of such trickery had materialized, and apparently that is still true even in Colorado, where state-licensed stores have been selling THC-laced lollipops, chocolate bars, and gummy candies to recreational customers since January (and to patients for years).

"Fears that trick-or-treaters here might end up with marijuana-laced candy on Halloween appear to have been overblown," reports USA Today. "Children's Hospital Colorado reported no instances of accidental pot poisonings from Friday night." According to the Associated Press, "Denver-area authorities said Monday they received no reports of children accidentally eating pot-laced candies this Halloween." Once again, we see how effective officials warnings about this threat can be: Cops keep telling parents to be vigilant, and so far no trick-or-treater has accidentally gotten high. Imagine what might happen if police let a year go by without talking about the menace of marijuana-infused Halloween candy.

Alas, A.P.  cites some evidence that undermines this banana-vs.-alligators theory:

A Denver-based testing company offered 1,000 free kits to parents wanting to screen their trick-or-treaters' haul for marijuana's psychoactive chemical. However, only 45 parents took CB Scientific up on the offer as of Friday….

"My honest opinion is that's an overblown fear that was created by the police," said CB Scientific CEO Bill Short.

Police may have created the fear, but Short's company happily capitalized on it for publicity. Similarly, USA Today helped promote the scare it is now debunking. In an October 22 story headlined "Marijuana-Infused Candy Raises Colo. Halloween Concerns," the paper reported that "some Colorado parents are worried their kids might come home with something dangerous after trick-or-treating this Halloween: marijuana-infused candy." The story cited two examples of such parents: Rachel O'Bryan, founder of SMART Colorado, a group that lobbies for restrictions on marijuana in the name of protecting children, and Frank McNulty, a state legislator who is pushing for a regulatory crackdown on marijuana edibles. USA Today also quoted Patrick Johnson, the marijuana merchant who appeared in the Denver Police Department's video about pot in Halloween candy. The only skeptic was Dan Anglin, chairman of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.

"We see this as a problem," O'Bryan said, "and we don't believe it's being blown out of proportion." McNulty was a bit more cautious. "I don't think you're going to see a lot of marijuana candies in Halloween bags," he said, but "it is something that parents need to think about." Like Johnson, McNulty suggested that parents worried about this putative pot peril need not take any new precautions. After all, doesn't every parent carefully inspect Halloween candy for broken glass, razor blades, and other puported hazards to innocent trick-or-treaters? In other words, if you are already hypervigilant as a result of other baseless scare stories, what's one more phony threat?