After Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012 and began sales in 2014, opponents warned of a spooky but unwanted outcome that Halloween: marijuana-laced candy. As opponents put it at the time, deviants would take advantage of the state's lax cannabis laws to give trick-or-treaters pot-laced candy without their knowledge.
USA Today reported in 2014, "Marijuana-infused candy raises Colo. Halloween concerns." Denver police put out a video telling parents how to watch out for marijuana-laced candy. Anti-legalization activist Kevin Sabet echoed the concerns, tweeting a news story about marijuana-laced candy in Maryland (though law enforcement said there was no evidence the candy was destined for trick-or-treaters).
So here's the good news: This never happened. Not even once, based on the available evidence.
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I reviewed media reports surrounding Halloween and contacted police departments, hospital networks, and poison centers in Colorado and Washington state, the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, to see if there had been any incidents of someone slipping marijuana candy to a trick-or-treater. None of them were aware of any such cases.
This response, from the Denver Police Department, was standard: "We are not aware of any cases of children ingesting marijuana candy during Halloween season."
This isn't a scientific study, given that there is simply no comprehensive data available for this kind of thing. But it shows that at the very least, initial fears about pot candy were overwrought.
To some extent, this shouldn't be surprising. The truth is that scares of dangerous or otherwise contaminated candy, despite playing a prominent role in American culture, are completely unfounded.
As Joel Best, the nation's top (and perhaps only) researcher on Halloween candy contamination, told me, "I've done research, and I can't find any evidence that any child has been killed or seriously hurt by any candy picked up in the course of trick-or-treating. My view is this is overblown. You can't prove a negative, but it seems unlikely."