No, Kids Will Not Get "Marijuana Candy" on Halloween if Florida's Medical Pot Bill Passes

Remember all those times as a kid when you bit into a delicious Snickers bar on Halloween night, only for a hidden razor blade to slice through your gums and send you to the emergency room? No? What about all the times you accidentally got anthrax from tainted candy? Not ringing any bells?

That's because parents freak out about strangers giving their kids candy every Halloween. And with a medical cannabis vote coming in Florida next month, anti-pot activists are shamelessly capitalizing on parents' fear to try to get them to vote down Amendment 2, a common-sense medical cannabis bill that would legalize marijuana for people with debilitating illnesses.

In a news release yesterday, the anti-weed group Don't Let Florida Go to Pot warned that evil stoners will hand out candy tainted with marijuana if Amendment 2 passes, and there won't be anything anyone can do to stop it! (Cue maniacal laughter.)

"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."

But unlike other scare tactics, this conspiracy theory actually has some merit. Just kidding, it's been debunked repeatedly and has no basis in science.

Last year, Denver Police and the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center reported that exactly zero cases of accidental marijuana ingestion were reported in Colorado in 2014. That year, anti-pot groups had taken out billboards across the state warning that sneaky stoners would fill kids' bags with weed goodies, according to the Guardian.

There were also — you guessed it — zero cases of accidental pot ingestion in Washington state that Halloween despite recreational weed's legal status there too.

That year, the Washington Post reported that Americans were likelier to catch Ebola than they were to receive hidden-pot goodies on Halloween.

Sure, nobody is saying you should just ignore the bags of candy your kids bring home October 31. Do your due diligence to make sure nothing weird got in there. But the scenario that anti-pot groups warn about simply won't happen.

Don't Let Florida Go to Pot — which is sponsored by the (deeply conservative) Florida Medical Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association, and the Drug Free America Foundation, among other groups — brings up the fact that marijuana-related hospitalizations have spiked in legal-weed states.

“It is almost impossible for anyone, let alone a child, to tell a marijuana gummy bear or cookie from the real thing," Drug Free America Foundation executive director Calvina Fay said in the release. "This mistaken identity has resulted in a dramatic increase in ER visits and calls to poison control from accidental ingestion in states where marijuana has been legalized, normalized, and commercialized. With Halloween coming in a few days, it really gives us pause to think how dangerous this could be for our children!” 

Why are you shouting, Calvina Fay?

But it's seriously misleading to frame the facts that way. Yes, marijuana hospitalizations for kids under the age of 9 "doubled" in Colorado in 2014 and 2015. But that still amounted to only 16 kids statewide going to the hospital for weed ingestion in 2015. (Also, unlike alcohol and prescription pills, which are legal, weed cannot kill you.)

"The overall numbers, though, are still relatively low and account for a small fraction of all accidental exposures," the Denver Post wrote after examining the numbers themselves.

(If you keep marijuana edibles in your home, you should do everything in your power to keep them away from children, just as you do with alcohol, drain cleaner, bug killer, and prescription medication.)

In case you're curious why a medical association would sponsor such a clearly incorrect scare-tactics campaign, consider this: The Florida Medical Association voted to oppose Amendment 2 at a conference sponsored by PhRMA, the nation's largest pharmaceutical industry trade group, earlier this year. Big Pharma companies have spent millions to stop the legalization of weed because doctors in medical-marijuana states prescribe fewer opiate painkillers.

There's another, more obvious reason that Don't Let Florida Go to Pot is simply trying to spook parents to vote down legal medical cannabis: Do you know any self-respecting stoner who'd just hand out pot candy for free?

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