The Drug Free America Foundation, which is fighting a medical marijuana initiative in Florida by warning that it will lead to cannabis candy in trick-or-treat bags, has latched onto a bogus report of such an incident in Illinois to show the threat is more than a figment of prohibitionists' imaginations. "The cruel and unfortunate incident highlights the very real dangers legal marijuana has on children," the organization says in a press release published yesterday. "These children were intentionally targeted by adults that were not their parents with the malicious intent of poisoning them."
Calvina Fay, the foundation's executive director, elaborates on the threat to trick-or-treaters. "This shows that the potential for children accidently ingesting marijuana is a real danger," she says. "It also shows that this is not just a problem for children who have parents that use marijuana and leave it unsecured and accessible around the house and it is not something we can simply blame on bad parenting. This makes it clear that children, even with the best parenting, can be exposed to marijuana. These children were unsuspecting and taken advantage of by a mean-spirited person or persons with no regard for their safety or well-being."
Actually, this incident shows none of those things, because it involved Japanese candy that the Bureau County Sheriff's Office misrepresented as THC-laced treats. The "small pictures of cannabis leaves" that Sheriff James Reed perceived on the wrappers of Crunch Choco Bars were actually small pictures of maple leaves, a symbol of the Japanese candy brand Iroha Kaede (a kind of maple tree). And unless Iroha Kaede is secretly doping its Japanese customers, the field test that supposedly showed the candy bars contained marijuana was erroneous, as such tests often are.
In an interview with U.S. News reporter Steven Nelson yesterday, a spokesman for the sheriff's office was not quite ready to concede the embarrassing mistake. "I'm not making any official statement right now," said Sgt. Gary Becket. "A follow-up press release will be sent out once the final lab testing has been done."
It has been two decades since California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use, and in that time two dozen states have followed suit. Four of them have also legalized marijuana for recreational use. Yet Sheriff Reed's Crunch Choco Bar confusion is the best example prohibitionists can find to substantiate their concern that strangers with candy are trying to get your kids high by passing off marijuana edibles as ordinary Halloween treats. The complete lack of actual cases, of course, does not stop opponents of legalization from continuing to warn parents about the mythical menace of marijuana in trick-or-treat bags, as illustrated by this TV spot from Nevada: