Halloween is over, and so far, there are no reports of lunatics throwing cannabis candy treats into the bags of costumed tots standing in their thresholds.
Because of course, that never happens. Why would it? If someone wanted to do something bad to a kid, why would they choose to give the kid pot edibles? What possible motivation could there be for making a neighborhood kid stoned, and paying big money to do it? It doesn’t pass the most simple test of logic.
That hasn’t stopped the merchants of moral panic from issuing grave warnings — especially on Halloween, but really all year ’round — about evildoers out to give kids a buzz. Local TV news, the worst culprit, does it like clockwork every year. The trend seems to have slowed somewhat since states started to legalize weed, but in some cases legalization has merely changed the nature of the reports. A few years ago, a news station in Charlotte, N.C. aired a report that the state’s “drug enforcement agents” were facing a “nightmare” as Halloween approached: people would be giving cannabis treats to kids. What pushed this one over the line from ludicrousness to insanity was the fact that the treats in question were CBD edibles, which don’t get you high.
Law enforcement officials seem to have generated that report, like so many such news stories,. Police departments and prosecutors are always looking for ways to appear “tough on crime,” and will take any excuse to issue statements they think will bolster that image.
Late last month, a bunch of state attorneys general issued warnings about cannabis edibles. But few of them mentioned trick-or-treating in the press statements they sent out, perhaps knowing that ridicule would rain down upon them if they did. And yet, they got ridiculed anyway, despite the fact that — giving them the benefit of the doubt in this case — they actually had a point.
The edibles business has grown exponentially since states started legalizing weed over a decade ago. And predictably, reports of accidental ingestion have grown right along with it, including plenty of reports of kids mistakenly scarfing down edibles. Calls to poison control centers have risen (though calls regarding actual poison dwarf them). This isn’t surprising. It’s not easy to tell a cannabis gummy from a regular one, and it doesn’t help that so many edibles makers insist on using colorful packages that look like they belong on the shelf at 7-11 right next to the Skittles and Jujubes.
It’s even worse when, as several of the attorneys general pointed out, companies that are downright sleazy ape the trademarks of famous candies for their own purposes. As noted previously in this space, there have been tons of trademark lawsuits filed against companies using famous brand names to sell cannabis edibles, often altering them slightly (“Zkittlez” being among the more famous examples).
There is no such thing as an “overdose” of cannabis. It can’t kill or physically harm a person. But as even veteran cannabis users know, eating too many edibles can be an alarming experience. Doing it accidentally can be downright terrifying, especially for kids who have no idea why they’re freaking out, which makes them freak out even more. Keeping kids away from cannabis just makes sense.
As understandable as the government’s warnings last month might have been, it seems that, sometimes, a prosecutor can’t help himself. After Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued a press release warning about keeping edibles separate from regular candy this Halloween — a perfectly reasonable advisory — USA Today reporter Jackie Borchardt asked his office if they knew of any instance of cannabis edibles making their way into Halloween bags. No, they said. But Yost nevertheless felt compelled to reply on Twitter: “If this is the year that this trend hits Ohio trick-or-treat — and we’d said nothing — the question from the media would be why we ignored a national trend,” he wrote.
The problem is that there is no such trend. Yost got the basting he deserved on Twitter, and perhaps next year will be a bit more circumspect.