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Halloween is around the corner. This festival means a tradition to clumsily carve a jack o’ lantern and dress their children in unique costumes for many parents. Some parents may get freaked out by scaremongering news reports of cannabis-laced candy being given to their kids. Cannabis candies as a treat is a topic discussed in this period every year, and it still deserves noticing though it is reported and reckoned as a rumor by media and writers.

Poisoned Halloween Candy Panic

People born in the 1960s and 1970s in America must have heard the story of “Poisoned Halloween Candy Panic,” which quickly metastasized among families and even caused the way of celebrating Halloween changed. 

The origin of the “poisoned Halloween candy” story that returns every year to bedevil parents dates back to 1964 in Long Island, New York when a disturbed housewife there handed out treats containing arsenic. The woman, 47, claimed it was a “joke” and that she did it because she thought some of the trick-or-treaters who rang her doorbell were “too old.” She was later committed to a hospital for examination.

Another version of the Halloween candy scare began in 1970. An op-ed on Oct. 28, 1970, in The New York Times suggested the possibility of strangers using Halloween’s “trick-or-treat” tradition to poison children.

Story of poisoned Halloween candy – Google pic.

The editorial mentioned two unconfirmed incidents in upstate New York and offered a series of frightening rhetorical questions. The author, Judy Klemesrud, wondered, for example, if that “plump red apple” from the “kindly old lady down the block…may have a razor blade hidden inside.”

Some readers accepted her questions as a definitive fact.

Two days later, a five-year-old child died on Halloween in Detroit after consuming heroin. Early media reports of his death cited his uncle’s claim that he had been exposed to the drug in tainted holiday treats.

By mid-November 1970, newspaper reportage showed that the child had in fact found the heroin at his uncle’s home — not in his bag of Halloween candy, as investigators had at first been told.

But on Oct. 31, 1974, another child died in Houston. This time, the death resulted from eating poisoned candy: The child’s father had murdered his own son by placing cyanide in a pixie stick.

This story of the Houston “candyman killer” quickly metastasized. Though it had no evidence, Newsweek magazine asserted in a 1975 article that “over the past several years, several children have died and hundreds have narrowly escaped injury from razor blades, sewing needles, and shards of glass put into their goodies by adults.”

The accumulated editorials and reports finally brought about a series of resistant actions towards the Halloween traditions. By the 1980s, some communities banned “trick-or-treating” while hospitals in some metropolitan areas offered to X-ray Halloween candy. Parent-teacher associations encouraged fall festivals to replace Halloween, and on Long Island, a community group gave prizes to children who stayed home altogether for Halloween 1982.

Some governments also reacted to it to release the fears. In 1982 the governor of New Jersey signed a bill requiring a jail term for those tampering with candy.

Should it Be a Worry in 2020?

Such a story has been suspected and deemed a rumor due to the lack of realities and substantial evidence. For example, the case of the killed boy in Halloween actually happened in the middle of that year but was fabricated and adapted to cater for the dark atmosphere of Halloween.

Treat-or-trick pic. from Google

Specialists also expressed their scientific opinions. “Alarmist warnings about medicated edibles often mask an anti-cannabis agenda,” said Dr. Mitch Earleywine, a psychologist and Chairman of the National NORML Board of Directors. “These medicated products are markedly more expensive than candy. No one is likely to hand them out willy-nilly to random trick-or-treaters. I’m more concerned about kids wearing costumes that will keep them visible to cars.”

Earleywine said the basic rule is something 99.9% of parents already follow: “Rely on labeled candy that is individually wrapped.”

Although cannabis-infused candies are more available now, the laws in nearly all states have required those cannabis edibles have to labeled with straight and manifest notice, which can be easily recognized. Moreover, cannabis candies are more expensive than normal, so it is not sensible for ordinary folks to deliver them as a treat.

All in all, parents should not overreact to such fear but it makes sense to protect your kids adequately. Just elaborately prepare for the festival and enjoy mutual happiness with your kids!


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