Halloween is a good time to remember that some things just don’t stay buried. Like, for instance, zombies, or, for another instance, myths that are perpetuated to cause hysteria but which have no basis in fact. Unfortunately for us all, the urban legend of the poison Halloween candy has returned from the grave just in time to spook voters in this election season.
The anti-cannabis group Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot put out a news release earlier this week warning parents of the “very real scenario” of getting marijuana-infused edibles mixed in with their kids’ candy while trick-or-treating, as reported by the Miami New Times. The statement is meant to dissuade voters from OK’ing Amendment 2, a ballot initiative that would legalize medical marijuana in Florida for patients with debilitating illnesses and a physician’s certified recommendation.
“Officials came together today to warn that Florida children who go door to door for candy on Halloween may one day be at risk of receiving edible marijuana products if Amendment 2 comes to pass,” the group said. “This scary scenario isn’t the plot of an upcoming horror movie. According to medical and law enforcement officials, it’s a very real scenario playing out in states like California, Washington and Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized.”
When similar scare tactics were employed last Halloween by an anti-marijuana interest group in Colorado, the Washington Post was quick to point out that there had never ever ever been a documented case of a cannabinoid-dosed goody ending up in a child’s trick-or-treat basket, making it statistically more likely to catch Ebola than to end up with an edible in your plastic pumpkin.
Of course this is not the first time that myths of tampered Halloween candy have got parents needlessly worried. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, fear spread of random creeps were slipping poison and razor blades into trick-or-treat candies. The media went nutty with coverage of the supposed threat, but when Dr. Joel Best, a sociologist and criminologist at the University of Delaware, looked at every reported incident of “Halloween sadism” since 1958, he couldn’t find a single incident of a child being injured by a random stranger’s candy.
90 cases were found, all of which were either attributed to a child’s prank or a parent seeking financial compensation and/or attention. But these facts couldn’t get in the way of changing Halloween habits. “Safe trick-or-treating” in public spaces has since become popular, with 17 percent of families now doing the Halloween ritual at indoor shopping malls instead of in residential neighborhoods, and homemade candy being virtually eradicated from the tradition.
So, what used to be a ritual that brought communities together and resulted in homemade treats has now become a holiday that only supports hyper-commercialism in mall and mass-produced candy form. Hopefully, we won’t see the same scam run on Florida voters to scare them out of legal medical marijuana, favoring Big Pharma drugs instead. That would be some truly spooky shit.
Photo via Flickr user William Warby