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October 27, 2017

Dear parents, marijuana edibles shouldn't be your biggest Halloween fear

The real safety concern is the enemy right before our eyes

I’ve been thinking about Halloween safety a bunch these past few days. There are several reasons for this.

For starters, parents are always concerned about protecting their children.

Luckily, as I sit here at the kitchen table eating breakfast (and typing), my second-grader son tells me they’re going to talk about Halloween safety at school today.

I’m also someone who thinks the country’s future started looking a lot darker last November. People – myself included, to a certain extent – just seem colder, more distant and angrier.

As such, it’s only natural to think that tales of poisoned and/or tampered candy could move from the realm of myth to reality.

Maybe it’s a paranoia of distrust creeping in, but on my week-ahead calendar, I’ve carved out some time for stories about evil candy giver-outers just in case. (It’s likely unnecessary. I just like to plan ahead, even if the scheduling app is fueled by unnecessary fears.)

When it comes to Halloween malfeasance, the peak researcher in the field and the season’s go-to-quote deliverer is University of Delaware sociologist Joel Best.

As of four years ago, he had yet to find a single confirmed case of strangers killing kids with doctored candy.

“I don't want to say that this has never happened, because you cannot prove a negative, but I can say that this would be a big news story if it did," he said recently.

That did nothing to soothe my concerns that 2017 is unlike any Halloween season before, but it still offered a modicum of solace.

But then I remembered the horrifying warning out of South Jersey that I’d scrolled past quickly on Thursday.

With all requisite apologies to co-workers, who presented it to readers of this here website, it was a Fox29 tweet – specifically, the responses it elicited – that caught my attention.

“Officials: Trick or treaters beware marijuana candy, edibles,” it read atop of a photo of delicious-looking weed treats.

Here’s an excerpt from our story to put it into context:

"There is a significant presence of marijuana candy and edible forms in New Jersey and nearby states," a public awareness document released by the health department says. "The presence of these edible marijuana forms poses a great risk to users, especially to children, who may accidentally receive marijuana candy during Halloween."

Now, there’s nothing inaccurate about the sentiments expressed by law enforcement in this case.

Yes, there are a bunch of edibles around New Jersey and, well, everywhere!

And, should children eat said edibles, yes, there are health problems about which parents should be concerned!

But – and this is where Twitter nation swooped in to crack some real eggs of knowledge – people really wouldn’t be all that keen on giving away expensive “candies” just for potential lulz. 

Also, people who enjoy marijuana aren’t exactly the type who are making the world darker by the moment.

To wit:

Listen, this isn’t to say that people shouldn’t check their children’s Halloween bags for illicit narcotics and other hazards. They totally should. I know I will.

It'll be pretty obvious that the treat has a wrapper that's Cheech-and-Chonged a traditional candy-bar name, folks.

Admitting that I’m no big-city – or suburban D.A.R.E. – cop, I do know this: Edibles aren’t the biggest worry out there on the streets for our children on Halloween. Nope, the real enemy is in plain sight.

“As children take to the streets on Halloween to trick-or-treat, their risk of being injured by motorists increases greatly,” reads a press release from AAA. “In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year.

“Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists and parents must be even more alert.”

All of which is to say this: Parents, before you get all worked up about your kids bringing weed gummies back to the house, focus on getting them home safely in the first place.

Thanks and God bless.