Cannabis opponents are some of the most desperate members of the public policy world. While I can’t understand why opponents continue to push reefer madness, I can understand why they are so desperate these days. Gallup released this year’s cannabis legalization survey, in which they ask Americans if they support legalization, and the results were nothing short of historic. Support for cannabis legalization is up to 64% among all survey participants, with is 4% greater from just a year ago. Cannabis legalization is so popular that the poll, which has been conducted annually since 1969, found majority support for legalization even among Republicans.
One would think that cannabis opponents would put a fork in it and move on to something else. Yet, sadly, instead of moving off the scare tactics cannabis opponents are just taking the talking points to other states. One of the biggest examples of that is the ‘watch out for cannabis infused Halloween candy’ scare tactic. As some media outlets have pointing out since this scare tactic started being regularly used by opponents, cannabis infused Halloween candy is the new razor-blade in the Halloween candy boogeyman. It’s kind of sad that it seems that cannabis opponents are almost wishful that kids would receive cannabis infused candy on Halloween with as much as they push the talking point.
The attempt to cause hysteria seemed to start in 2014, on the first Halloween after legal adult-use cannabis sales began in Colorado (first in the country). Cannabis opponents helped pump out a number of media articles warning parents of the seemingly inevitable doomsday scenario in which a small army of children would be given cannabis edibles during the course of trick-or-treating. The same scare tactic has since moved to other states like New Jersey and Florida this year. But fortunately for the well being of children, and unfortunately for cannabis opponents’ political strategies, no evidence has been found that the handing out of cannabis infused candy to trick-or-treating children has ever happened. Per and stellar article by German Lopez at Vox:
So here’s the good news: This never happened. Not even once, based on the available evidence.
I reviewed media reports surrounding Halloween and contacted police departments, hospital networks, and poison centers in Colorado and Washington state, the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, to see if there had been any incidents of someone slipping marijuana candy to a trick-or-treater. None of them were aware of any such cases.
This response, from the Denver Police Department, was standard: “We are not aware of any cases of children ingesting marijuana candy during Halloween season.”
I don’t expect this talking point to go away. It will unfortunately pop up year after year in states that seem like they are either on the verge of reform, or have recently reformed their cannabis laws such as in Florida. Cannabis opponents want to find examples of reform not working, and every Halloween provides an opportunity to spread reefer madness in a way that apparently is too appealing for cannabis opponents to pass up.
Scare tactics like predictions of terror on public roadways (hasn’t happened), a spike in youth cannabis consumption of epidemic proportions (hasn’t happened), and others that opponents use are failing to become reality, but that won’t stop opponents from continuing to use them because it’s all they have. Science, facts, compassion, and public opinion certainly aren’t on their side. If you live in a state where these talking points haven’t been used yet, just wait, they will be. That’s why you need to step up and use the phrase made famous by Flavor Flav, ‘don’t believe the hype!’