A billboard near the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford, Connecticut menacingly reads “Can You Spot the Pot?” Sponsored by the Milford Prevention Center, a drug prevention organization, the billboard features candy along with a warning about the supposed threat of children having edibles casually tossed into their pumpkins while trick-or-treating Halloween.
Warnings like the one featured on the Milford billboard are nothing new. In October 2019, the Johnstown Police Department in Johnstown, Pennsylvania issued a warning on Facebook about children unknowingly receiving edibles. This was in response to a raid the police had conducted earlier at a storage unit, where among other items they found edibles that looked like the Nerds Rope candy. Officers in Bensalem, Pennsylvania also issued a similar warning about edibles in September after finding THC edibles at a traffic stop.
The Halloween Candy Edibles Myth: Facts vs. Fiction
According to a recent Pew Research poll, 91 percent of Americans surveyed in 2021 believe that medical cannabis should be federally legal, with over 60 percent supporting legalization for medical and adult use. Since 2014, cannabis has been found to possess numerous health benefits, including its ability to treat seizures in children who have epilepsy. Yet the growing nationwide turn to favoring legal cannabis has done little to staunch the myth of children accidentally eating edibles along with their Halloween candy.
In October 2014, a billboard by Smart Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit that seeks to educate parents on how to keep children safe amid cannabis commercialization, had a message similar to the one found in Milford that read “Can You Spot The Pot?” The billboard featured candy along with text saying “Marijuana Candy. Trick or Treat,” followed by the organization's web address.
While these campaigns make the idea of finding edibles in Halloween candy seem like a viable danger, the fact is that there have been no reported cases of children receiving edibles on Halloween.Some of the hysteria around children and edibles can be traced back to October 30, 2010 when police in Los Angeles issued a warning to parents about candy containing cannabis. This came after officers confiscated THC infused candies at several local dispensaries days before a vote on the failed Proposition 19 which would have legalized recreational cannabis. (California would ultimately legalize adult-use cannabis in November 2016 with the passage of Proposition 64.)
However, there is a history of children accidentally ingesting edibles on other occasions. In June 2021, a 21-month child named Oliver Perry from Maryland was sent to the hospital after accidentally consuming his mother’s cannabis gummies. Perry has made a full recovery, but the fear around the possibility of kids getting ahold of cannabis candy has not.
Child Safety and Cannabis Packaging
But just like the Halloween myth, this more general fear is also largely unfounded. There have been no known reported deaths of children ingesting edibles at any time on record, and no person has ever died from an overdose of cannabis alone. Over the past decade, however, there has been an increase of calls to various poison control centers in the U.S for children ingesting edibles from 19 in 2010 to 554 in 2020.
To prevent children from ingesting edibles, the California Department of Cannabis Control section 15413 subsection b reads, “A package containing cannabis goods shall be tamper-evident and child-resistant. If the package contains multiple servings, the package must also be resealable.”
Beyond the entirely fabricated Halloween threat, one should also consider the cost of edibles as a natural deterrent for literally giving them away. The average weekly price per milligram of a THC infused edible in California during May 2021 hovered around 20 cents. Edibles can vary on the amount of THC, but on average, edibles will usually have around 10-15 milligrams of THC leading to a starting price range of $2-$3 per edible.
To fight concerns about children getting ahold of edibles, states like Colorado have passed legislation that attempts to prevent children from ingesting edibles. For instance, the state does not allow anyone under the age of 18, regardless of if they have a medical card, to purchase cannabis products. The state also passed HB16-1436 which banned edibles being sold or produced that are shaped in a manner to entice children. This includes having any edible shaped like an animal, human or fruit.
If you are a parent and you worry about your child possibly getting an edible on Halloween, here are some tips to make sure your Halloween is safe. First, take a deep breath and look at the history, or lack thereof. Then, show your child the difference in packaging between an edible and an average piece of candy just the way you educate them on not drinking bleach or scotch or downing a handful of Tylenol. By doing this, the child will be aware of what not to pick out of a candy bowl and most importantly, what not to eat.
Educate Parents, Don't Scare Them
If there have been no reported deaths related to cannabis up to this point, why would there be any mass attempt to put edibles into the hands of children on Halloween? Instead of law enforcement agencies attempting to fearmonger parents about the pseudo phenomenon around edibles on Halloween, they should take the opportunity to educate parents. The truth is that it would take someone 15 minutes smoking 1,500 pounds of cannabis for them to die, a physical impossibility for anyone, especially children. Furthermore, packaging on edibles makes it clear that they contain THC and that they are not candy.
When it comes to child safety and cannabis, companies like KushCo Holdings are working on making their packaging childproof by going through several tests. In California, the Poison Prevention Packaging Act is a law that requires cannabis packaging to be child resistant. This includes labeling single use products as not child-resistant after opening.
Practice safety on Halloween by all means. But when it comes to edibles, know that the only real “trick” is the enduring falsehood that they’ll find their way into a candy bag at all.