Parents in Colorado Worry About Kids Getting Marijuana-Laced Sweets While Trick-o-Treating

Brownies with small doses of THC at the Growing Kitchen in Boulder, Colo. (Credit: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)
Brownies with small doses of THC at the Growing Kitchen in Boulder, Colo. (Credit: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

As Halloween approached, the Denver Police Department and a marijuana-store owner teamed up to film a public service video that could exist only in this weird new world of legalized pot.

Marijuana, they cautioned parents of trick-or-treaters, does not always look like marijuana. More and more these days, it can mimic Sour Patch Kids, Jolly Ranchers and gummy bears, and the police urged parents to double-check their children’s Halloween haul for any suspicious-looking candies that might be infused with marijuana.

“There’s really no way to tell the difference,” Patrick Johnson, the owner of Urban Dispensary, says in the video. He added, “It’s best just to toss that stuff into the trash.”

To some marijuana advocates, the warning belongs with shadowy urban legends about poisoned chocolates and candy bars spiked with razor blades. There have not been any reported cases of marijuana-laced treats being passed out on Halloween here, and edible marijuana comes in drab packages that look nothing like regular candy. Still, the Halloween message underscored a growing concern among parents’ groups and regulators that the abundant new varieties of legal, edible marijuana just look too much like regular food.

Since recreational marijuana sales began here in January, edible pot has become a top seller at dispensaries across Colorado, a sweet and tasty way for wary first-timers to sample marijuana, or for people to get high without coughing and reeking of smoke. But a spate of accidental ingestions by children and adults, and two deaths tied to edibles this year, have prompted widespread calls to clamp down on the edible corner of the marijuana market.

While some companies are making mandarin-flavored sodas and rich dark-chocolate bars infused with the drug, advocates for tighter marijuana regulation say that others are simply coating brightly colored bulk candy and child-friendly breakfast cereals with cannabis oil and selling it at a huge markup. And critics argue that even seasoned marijuana consumers are getting sick or losing control after eating marijuana snacks that proved far more potent than they had realized. A single candy bar or soda could be packed with enough THC — the major psychoactive chemical in marijuana — to serve 10 people.

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