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The Big Scare: Edibles, Candy and Halloween

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Last Halloween season, there was a scent in the air besides fall leaves, roasting pumpkin seeds and candy corn. It was the smell of fear. With the recent legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes in some states, many were worried that children would accidently get into edibles on Halloween and mistake them for regular candy. Others feared that menacing, anonymous individuals would give out laced Halloween candy on purpose, hoping to plunge the children who received it into crippling horror. Many news outlets ran outrageous scare stories showing how difficult it can be to tell the difference between edibles and regular candy, and there was a general feeling of panic as the dreaded holiday approached.

As the date rolled around, what exactly happened? Nothing. There were no cases of tampered-with candy, or even suspicion of such, reported to the Denver police. In fact, according to a story from Forbes entitled “The Mythical Menace of Marijuana-Infused Halloween Candy,” this has been a potential worry, or at least on the radar of police, since the first instances of medical cannabis being legalized in California back in 1996. No cases have ever been reported of this, but there are news stories dating back to this year warning about this potential threat alongside razor blades in apples, and all of the other typical Halloween concerns.

“Personally, I think there was never anything to worry about in the first place,” Nancy Whiteman, co-founder of Wana Brands, an edibles company based out of Colorado, told CULTURE. “To deliberately set out to hurt a child would obviously be the work of a very sick individual and frankly, there is no way we can ever completely prevent that—but there is also no particular reason to think that such a person would choose edibles as their method to put kids at risk. Many other options would be less expensive and more toxic. It is more likely that anyone who did such a thing would have had the idea put into his or her head by the sensationalized and continuous media coverage.”

However, this of course does not mean that you should not practice good safety etiquette. As is always the rule with Halloween candy, a child should never eat anything that has been opened or looks tampered with, and adhering to this simple rule should stop any potential criminals who want to harm children. Additionally, the introduction of edibles to the legal market does create a new temptation for children, albeit one that would more than likely come to play due to boredom or mischief on the child’s part or carelessness on yours, not evil intentions from an unknown stranger.

In order to insure that children don’t get into edibles that you may have purchased for personal use, there are a few precautions you can take.

“First, all retail edibles now come in child resistant containers,” explains Whiteman. “Multi-serving products come in child resistant packaging that retains its child resistant properties even after it has been opened. So, for starters, if you want to consume edibles, and you have children, buy legal edibles, as opposed to black market products. Legal edibles are lab tested and in proper packaging so children can’t access the edibles. Secondly, as with any substance that you are concerned about, keep edibles out of the reach of children. That’s just common sense. Lock them up if you are concerned about access. Third, don’t make edibles at home or allow homemade edibles in your home. Unregulated edibles have not been tested for potency and are generally not going to be in child resistant packaging. Unregulated edibles present a much bigger risk to children than legal edibles.”

This Halloween, make safety your first priority, but before you lock your kids in for the night with a bag of store-bought Snickers, remember that there have been no reported cases of cannabis-spiked Halloween candy, and that sometimes the media hype can be scarier than the reality itself.

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