Video: The Annual Scare-Mongering Over "Marijuana-Laced" Halloween Candy

By Dirk Hanson 10/31/11

Some sheriffs' departments and media outlets try a little too hard to frighten us every year.

Is cannabis candy a real bogeyman? Photo via

It’s time to say “boo” to the annual scare-mongering over marijuana-laced Halloween treats, says NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. What got them riled up were the dark implications about the role of medical marijuana suggested by this year’s campaign. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department called a press event Friday to display “a variety of candy, soda, chocolate and other snack foods containing concentrated amounts of marijuana that were recently seized from local marijuana dispensaries.” Sgt. Glen Walsh, a spokesman for the LA County Sheriff’s Department, solemnly warned parents to inspect the candy their children bring home after trick-or-treating before letting them consume it. But how, exactly, do you screen your child’s holiday candy for weed? To misquote Ry Cooder, you can tell by the smell—or the taste. Specifically, a “pungent smell or an odd taste.” Walsh also allegedly fired off this whopper: the level of THC, the chemical found in marijuana, “can vary from zero to over 90%,” he said. NORML has volunteered to test some of that "90%" stuff, and we can’t help wondering how marijuana has come to join a long list of Halloween urban legends that includes razor blades, pins and poison. Let’s face it—whoever met a stoner willing to hand out his precious stash to an army of snot-nosed neighborhood kids? No matter. KABC-TV in Los Angeles tried to stir up a witch’s brew of dread anyway with this report.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]