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Illinois Sheriff Passes Off Japanese Candy As Marijuana-Infused Halloween Treat

Warnings of pot in trick-or-treat bags still have no basis in reality.

Bureau County Sheriff's OfficeBureau County Sheriff's OfficeOn Monday the Bureau County, Illinois, sheriff's office issued a press release describing "an incident following Trick or Treat" in which "parents came forward with suspicious looking candy marked as Crunch Choco Bar," the wrapper of which "has small pictures of cannabis leaves on it." According to Bureau County Sheriff James Reed, "the substance was field tested and was positive for containing cannabis." The press release closed by urging parents (as always!) to be vigilant against tainted or sabotaged Halloween treats and asking for information about "which residence provided this candy," which supposedly was handed out in Manlius, a tiny town northwest of Princeton, the Bureau County seat.

Is this the long-awaited evidence that malevolent strangers really are trying to get your kids high by slipping marijuana edibles into their trick-or-treat bags? Nope. As an eagle-eyed blogger pointed out at Dankspace.com, the picture accompanying Reed's press release shows Japanese candy bars sold under the brand name Iroha Kaede, which is a kind of maple tree. That's right: Those "small pictures of cannabis leaves" are actually small pictures of maple leaves. If the candy bar really did come up "positive for containing cannabis" in a field test, that just shows how unreliable such tests are.

Iroha KaedeIroha KaedeAlthough a Google search for "Crunch Choco Bar" would have quickly revealed this story as unfounded, several local news outlets, including WQAD (an ABC affiliate), the Dispatch-Argus, and the Bureau County Republican, credulously passed it along. In addition to the fact that Sheriff Reed's photo of cannabis candy does not actually show cannabis candy, several things should have given reporters pause.

First, the candy supposedly was received on October 30, which is not the traditional day for trick or treating. Second, someone trying to pass marijuana edibles off as ordinary Halloween candy probably would not hand out products marked with cannabis leaves, and he probably would not do it in a town with a population of 350. Third, this would have been the first verified example ever of someone trying to pull off such a prank. Fourth, there is little incentive for anyone to do so, given the high cost of replacing cheap candy with expensive marijuana edibles and the lack of a payoff. Even assuming a kid eats the candy, the effects would not be apparent for an hour or two, so what's in it for the prankster?

Bureau County Sheriff's OfficeBureau County Sheriff's OfficeA search of the Nexis database turns up 13 warnings about marijuana candy in trick-or-treat bags published by newspapers since October 1. Nine of those warnings appeared in public disservice pieces that ran in Iowa and Nebraska under headlines such as "Tips to Stay Safe on Halloween Night" and "Don't Clown Around This Halloween." One story ran in the Salem, Oregon, Statesman Journal, which noted that Monday was "the first Halloween when recreational edibles were legal to sell in Oregon," although it conceded that "the Oregon Poison Center doesn't forecast anyone giving out candies with marijuana." Still, you can never be too safe, right? Similar stories, encouraged by propaganda from the Denver Police Department, appeared after legal recreational marijuana sales began in Colorado, where police reported no actual incidents of THC-tainted treats.

The four other 2016 stories about marijuana-infused Halloween candy, which appeared in The Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, the Bradenton Herald, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reported warnings from opponents of initiatives that would legalize marijuana for medical use in Florida and for recreational use in Nevada. The Sentinel also ran a column by Scott Maxwell calling the scare tactic "hogwash." The only reports of an actual incident were the ones provoked by Sheriff Reed's press release, which was printed on stationery that proclaims "Honesty...Integrity...Trust," right below the photo of counterfeit cannabis candy.

[Thanks to Joshua Hotchkin for the tip.]

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  • Tom Bombadil||

    Did the sheriff get home safely?

  • Jerryskids||

    Speaking of trick or treat..... The Human Rights Watch report documented stories from 43 women and girls in seven Nigerian camps who said they were were raped or sexually exploited by the guards and officials assigned to protect them.

    SMoD 2016!

  • wef||

    Please, do not undermine public trust in heroes. Some people might start to think the system is rigged.

  • sarcasmic||

    Honesty...Integrity...Trust

    These are the things that can get a cop fired.

  • Florida Hipster||

    Give up Reason. It's ingrained in the culture. People want to believe the world is dangerous, so that's what they believe. No amount of facts and statistics is going to change that.

    "Sure, no one has poisoned any kids...YET!"

  • ||

    The world is dangerous. Dangerous as hell. For some reason people freak out about all the wrong things.

  • Florida Hipster||

    I've been passing around Ron's book. It does a better job of arguing that we are living in one of the safest times in history, than I could ever do.

  • ||

    Pecan trees are very common in Louisiana. I used to have one in my yard. They are very large trees that self-prune.

    One night I couldn't sleep so I went outside, walked around the yard and smoked a cigarette. It was one of those still foggy nights when the air just doesnt move at all. It was as quiet as a tomb. I am standing there under the pecan tree doing nothing when I hear this funny cracking and whooshing noise. Instinctively I ran. I got about ten feet when a half ton of pecan limb landed exactly where I had been standing. It hit the ground hard enough to rattle the windows in the house.

    I read Ron's book. Good stuff. Yes, the world is less dangerous than ever, but there are lots of dangers we cant do anything about. It's just the nature of the world.

  • Florida Hipster||

    I'm not saying nothing bad can happen, I'm just saying the level of worry isn't commiserate with the actual risk (not you, people in general).

  • Ted S.||

    I live in a place with no pecan trees, so there's that threat gone....

  • ||

    Wonderful! Never again will I have worry if it's pronounced, "PEE-can," or, "Peh-CAHN,"

  • ||

    It's pick-AHN.

  • LibertarianJRT||

    Someone told me last week that there are 7 accepted ways of saying Pecan. But he could only generate 4.

  • gaoxiaen||

    While sitting quietly in the forest deer hunting, a huge tree branch fell off a tree and landed three feet away from me. If it would have happened now and had hit (and killed) me it would probably be considered gun-related.

  • toolkien||

    I'll wait and see what the world is like once we're past the Big Debt Era. Buying peace eating our seed corn seems to leave a reckoning down the road we've yet to reach. Luckily, it's very close now, not much room left to kick that can. I REALLY do hope such opinions within the book are appropriate, but I am more inclined it has more utility as a door stop. AND, it's such myopia that leaves one to concentrate their minds not on the massive collectivism we're subject to but rather that carbon taxes and a rise of four inches of water by 2065 is anything but fiddling while Rome burns.

    For some reason I think of this.

  • ||

    It's still important to check your kid's trick or treat bag. How else are you going to get the good candy before they do?

  • geo1113||

    Indeed. I want the marijuana-infused candy.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Have to protect the children's health. Those Reese's Cups are harmful.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, since there is a clear possibility of mistaking candy for the devil weed, Halloween is hereby cancelled forever. We cannot have people acting like they are free citizens in a free country.

  • ||

    When you're a hammer you're dumb as...well, a hammer.

  • ||

    And wont to be forever in search of a nail.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's only a matter of time before a child is exposed to marijuana treats on Halloween, even if the sheriff has to hand them out himself.

  • ||

    Planting pharmaceutical goodies during the holidays certainly isn't unprecedented...

  • Lee Genes||

    Bill Weld endorses Jim Reed for governor.

  • Rich||

    This year: Ban clown costumes.

    Next year: Ban Japanese candy bar costumes.

  • ||

    Have you seen how menacing Japanese candy is, Rich? Even when explained by adorable, real live, Anime girl?*

    TW: No tentacles.

  • Rich||

    Good stuff, Doc!

    Hey, how is Halloween over there?

  • ||

    It was fantastic, actually! It really was a way for our city to forget about our troubles for spell. This is gives you an idea of what it's like.

    Pretty standard stuff, we decorated some and handed out yummy candeis. Dr. ZG dressed up as a Sexy Witch, and I was Donald Troomp grabbing her whatever in one of those Mr Skeltal costumes

  • ||

    Ooops, here's the Hallowe'en link.

    TW: Cute Ukrainian wimminz.

  • NebulousFocus||

    The leaf of the Japanese maple look surprisingly like marijuana. That said, these people are idiots.

  • Lee Genes||

    Back in the 80's we would give maple leaves to younger Scouts and tell them it was the devil weed. They'd fall for it about half the time and try to get high on it. So this particular sheriff is dumber than at least half of 13 year old Boy Scouts from the 80's.

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    We'd sell them lighter flints as acid (LSD) and tell them they would see lots of sparks.

  • ||

    First, the candy supposedly was received on October 30, which is not the traditional day for trick or treating.

    Traditional or not, many communities in IL (like mine) specify what days trick or treating is allowed. And it's not usually 10/31- in fact, it was 10/30 in our town.

    Remember IL's motto: "Clueless control freaks."

  • Mainer2||

    I thought Illinois's motto was "ubi est mea", or is that just Chicago ?

  • ||

  • KerryW||

    Yes, many cities in our state have "beggar's night" on a different day from October 31.

  • KerryW||

    In fact, in a metro area with different burbs having different days, some kids go out several nights in a row...

  • Mainer2||

    Our local grade school cancelled Halloween costumes at the last minute with no explanation. Parents were asking why on the town's facebook page. No explanation came from the school, but most people rationalized it, because, after all, some parents may have let their kid wear an "inappropriate" costume, so cancelling costumes for everyone is understandable and probably for the best. They also said they are learning to love big brother.

  • Mainer2||

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

    - H. L. Mencken

  • straffinrun||

    Japanese weed doesn't get you high.

  • Eric Bana||

    It does make your vagina turn sideways though, if you have one.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    And if not, you grow one!!

  • gaoxiaen||

    Never been to Hokkaido? It's Like Dali, China.

  • straffinrun||

    That's funny that you know that. Not that I know anything about that.

  • Libertarian||

    The world is a dangerous place.

    http://conservativetribune.com.....criminals/

    Police Say These 3 "Harmless" Bumper Stickers Help Criminals Target You… Do You Have Any of These?

  • BeefJokey||

    Well, you know, I remember, before Marijuana was legal, it was totally safe for kids to go around asking strangers for free candy.

  • Jake Stone||

    Re: number 4, above:

    I have been saying this for forever; what the hell is the incentive for a toker to waste his bud by putting it in some unsuspecting person's brownies/candy/fruit etc? You get your hands on the good, expensive shit and you're going to waste it like that? And even if the 'prank' goes off perfectly, what's the fun in watching someone else catch your buzz?

  • gaoxiaen||

    I miss the Halloweens of my childhood, when I only had to worry about fish hooks and razor blades.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Ryan Frederick could tell you a story about cops and Japanese maples.

  • Hugo S. Cunningham||

    Our northern neighbor even puts one of these suspicious herbal substances on their national flag. Seal the border! Call out the dogs!

  • Zero Sum Game||

    Nobody's going to give away drugs. Drugs are expensive and they could use them for themselves.

    It's the same reason that urban legend about "laced" drugs never pans out either. Who is going to give you bonus drugs in your drugs that you didn't pay for? People need to use their heads.

  • Dusty Relic||

    The whole point of Halloween is to scare people innit?

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