Halloween Warnings Scare Trick-Or-Treaters of Weed Edibles in Fresh Round

Trick-or-treaters beware.

Nothing is scarier than cannabis-infused edibles “disguised” as candy for some parents. Like clockwork, the annual wave of warnings to trick-or-treaters rolled out this year, alerting parents about the imminent danger of edibles getting mixed in with candy. But some people are skeptical if the problem is as prevalent as we’re being told.

While some edible makers ignore trademark laws to rip off major candy companies, they’re not doing it for the purpose of targeting children. 

“That framing is misleading in at least two ways,” Reason reporter Jacob Sullen wrote. “First, it assumes that producers of marijuana edibles that resemble popular candy brands are targeting children, who cannot legally buy such products even in states where adults can, as opposed to nostalgic grownups with a sweet tooth. Second, it implies that nefarious adults are apt to distribute THC treats on Halloween, requiring extra vigilance by parents who already worry about the danger allegedly posed by needles, glass shards, or poison that might be lurking in their kids’ candy hauls.”

As it turns out, adults also like candy, and infused candy doesn’t have to be a problem if it’s stored properly. But that hasn’t stopped the stigma of cannabis and the people who are constantly looking for ways to prove that legalization was a mistake.

Some officials simply want to educate people and parents in particular about safety. On Monday, New York officials provided Halloween safety tips for parents who consume cannabis as Halloween approaches. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, and Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman discussed Halloween safety tips.

The warning described what they call a “new threat” this year of edibles within reach of children, now that adult-use cannabis stores are open across Long Island and the state of New York as a whole.

Officials in Kansas did the same. Last month, the St. Mary’s Police Department (SMPD) in St. Mary’s, Kansas, warned of THC-infused candy that they say is marketed to children.

On Sept. 19, the SMPD issued a community advisory for infused candy that was seized locally. The SMPD said the THC edibles are “very dangerous in the hands of children and are disguised as popular brands.”

The SMPD shared a picture of THC-infused candy that was “disguised” as Airheads Extremes. The SMPD pointed out areas on the packaging that read “Medicated Candy.” But on the back of the candy wrapper, a disclaimer clearly reads “Contains Cannabis, A Schedule I Controlled Substance. Keep out of Reach of Children.” 

Dr. David Kling Jr., a pediatrician and a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, wrote an op-ed in The Columbus Dispatch warning about the threat of edibles this Halloween.

“While working in the emergency department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I have cared for dozens of children who unintentionally ate edibles, thinking it was a safe snack or piece of candy,” Kling wrote. “Since medical marijuana became legal in Ohio in 2016, Ohio’s poison control centers have seen a surge in the number of children who have unintentionally ingested foods containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active component in marijuana.”

Kling offered advice such as locking up edibles in a place your kids can’t get them or keeping them out of the house entirely. Edibles need to be kept out of reach from children as though they are the same as pharmaceuticals.

“Of all children who went to the hospital after an unintentional marijuana ingestion, nearly 60% of patients required some form of hospital-based intervention like blood work or intravenous fluids, according to the study Pediatric Edible Cannabis Exposures and Acute Toxicity: 2017-2021 published by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” Kling continued.  

Children’s small bodies are not equipped for THC, and the same goes for pets.

Not Everyone’s Convinced Edibles are an Actual Problem

Heather Trnka, injury prevention supervisor at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio, was skeptical to say the least, and told the Akron Beacon Journal “people typically aren’t going to be handing out any cannabis-infused candy or other drugs to trick or treaters.”

“That is a low-risk item,” Trnka said. “We know that those folks who get their hands on fentanyl or other drugs are going to be using it for themselves. It shouldn’t be a concern that we’re going to be worried that we’re going to get it from our neighbors or passed out as candy on Halloween night.”

In New Jersey, these warnings were “derided as a scare tactic.” While typically overblown, there are a few exceptions. Last year, an actual case of a delta-8 gummy landed in a kid’s candy bag. The St. Charles, Missouri Police Department said that it received a single report of a parent discovering an infused gummy in her kid’s Halloween haul.

In 2017, the executive director of the New Jersey chapter of NORML had to address a similar warning from the state’s attorney general, and explain how these warnings are often exaggerated or misleading.

“Cannabis consumers are not looking to dose children with cannabis. That is not something that I’ve ever heard of anybody ever being interested in doing or wanting to do or would think is ethical,” said Evan Nison, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of NORML. “This is just something that some police officers sometimes say every year, never really comes to fruition, and is just a scare tactic.”

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