Here's Why Fears About Weed in Halloween Candy Are Overblown

October 30th 2016

Halloween is nearly upon us, and law enforcement officials are warning parents to keep their eyes peeled for marijuana candies in trick-or-treat bags. But there's no evidence that such a threat exists, and one of the law enforcement people issuing the warnings is an opponent of marijuana legalization efforts in his state.

The issue is igniting controversy in Florida, where a medical marijuana initiative is on the ballot this November.

Jerry Demings, the sheriff in Florida's Orange County, stoked fears at a news conference this week about marijuana edibles finding their way into the hands of trick-or-treaters, but offered no evidence of a real threat, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

"It looks like any other candy," Demings said. "Sometimes there's just mean-spirited people who infuse these type of products into our society to create confusion and injure our children and other people."

HalloweenWikimedia - wikimedia.org

Demings also suggested that voting for Amendment 2 — which would legalize medical marijuana in the state — would heighten these threats. Demings is president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, which opposes the ballot initiative, the Sentinel reported.

But marijuana legalization advocates say Florida law enforcement officials are just blowing smoke.

"The same claim was made in states like Colorado and Washington after legalization and did not result in one case of cannabis-laden Halloween candy," Drug Policy Alliance Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy Dr. Amanda Reiman told Raw Story. "Cannabis-infused products must be clearly labeled and packaged in child-resistant packaging. In many proposed state level regulatory schemes, edibles products cannot even be in shapes that would appeal to children."

weed foodWikimedia Commons - wikipedia.org

Colorado law enforcement officials fretted about the issue in 2014, the year marijuana legalization went into effect in that state, Forbes reported.

Yet Denver authorities ultimately received zero reports of kids getting tricked with weed-laced treats.

In Florida, "what Sheriff Demings is saying is completely unrealistic," Ben Pollara, the director of United for Care, a pro-medical-marijuana group advocating for Amendment 2, told the Sentinel. "It's not grounded in fact or experience in the 25 other states and in [Washington] D.C. that already have medical marijuana."

Demings admitted the risk was small. "Even though the potential for the marijuana edibles appearing this year may be somewhat minimal, it is still a threat in our community," he told the Sentinel.

Small numbers of children have gotten sick from eating medicated desserts, but far more kids are poisoned by over-the-counter medications and household goods, The Washington Post reported.

Advocates argue that these cases don't reflect a larger threat posed by medical marijuana edibles.

"You can't account for irresponsible parenting," Pollara told the Sentinel.

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