Free-Range Kids

Should Parents Fear Marijuana Edibles in Their Kids' Halloween Candy? No.

This basically never happens.


Want your brain sucked out by zombies?  Yahoo! News is happy to oblige. A recent article screams: "Beware of marijuana edibles in your kids' Halloween stash, police warn: 'Not everything is as it seems.'"

Do parents really have to worry edibles in their kids Halloween stash? The news site mentions a single case, from 2019, of two Connecticut kids receiving a package of edibles. (They didn't eat them.) That's two kids in a country of about 40 million children under the age of 10. Even the local cops said they didn't believe this to be a "widespread problem."

That's because there's very little upside for anyone giving away expensive edibles. Even if you're the type (if there is a type) who thinks, "It would be so hilarious to see a baked Baby Yoda!" you wouldn't bother giving some random kid cannabis, because you won't be around for the fun. It's like paying to see a Broadway show and leaving before the curtain goes up.

Ah, but the absence of a danger is never a reason to avoid scare parents! So the story goes on to describe what would happen if your kid did overdose on edibles and end up in intensive care:

Jamie Alan, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Life. "There is a range of symptoms, from loss of coordination and being unbalanced to sleepiness to trouble breathing," she says. "In severe cases, children can become unconscious and need ventilator support."

Talk about masterful fear-mongering.

The report also quotes Alexandra Funk, director of Central Ohio Poison Control at Nationwide Children's Hospital—yes, Nationwide, the same insurance company that showed us a dead child during the 2015 Super Bowl. (Nothing if not consistent.) Funk mentions the high levels of THC in gummies and how sometimes the packaging is easy to mistake for candy.

This is true. That's why sometimes kids do accidentally eat edibles. Where do they get them? A 2016 study in JAMA Pediatrics found the not very surprising sources: parents and other family members.

The study also compared kids' "marijuana-related" hospital visits two years before pot was legalized in Colorado and two years after. Sure enough, the kid visits went up, from 1.2 per 100,000 to 2.3 per 100,000. That's an increase, but still a tiny overall number.

Per usual, the Halloween advice given by the authorities seems harmless. Indiana State Police Spokesman Ron Galaviz is quoted saying, "Just take an extra moment to inspect your child's candy, maybe more than you normally wood."

But the advice just isn't necessary. It normalizes the idea that of course you were going to inspect your child's candy—that this is a necessary precaution every good parent takes on Halloween. This reinforces the idea that there's enough poisoning going on that parents should never just assume their kids' candy is untainted. Candy poisoning, though, is an urban myth.

This is how helicopter parenting colonizes a culture. Good parents are exhorted to focus on some new danger, no matter how remote, which then necessitates more oversight. Instead of seeing kids as basically capable and safe, they're seen as puffballs in need of protection.