These days, it's pretty easy to lose the "true" meaning of Halloween in the same sort of way we lose the true meaning of Christmas. The spooky holiday has become more about wearing outrageously provocative and revealing outfits than, well, showing up as some kind of bloodied-up ghoul.
For me, Halloween is still, at its very core, about being a kid - going around your neighborhood, knocking on people's doors and getting candy. What I never realized as a kid, however, was that the mere concept of receiving candy from a bunch of strangers is pretty odd in itself. I mean, it perfectly contradicts one of the main and oft-repeated lessons we teach children: "Do not accept candy from strangers!"
But somehow, for Halloween, this valuable lesson completely goes out the window. And while it might just seem like a bit of innocent fun taking your kids out one evening a year to receive treats from a load of people you don't know, perhaps it shouldn't always be taken so lightly. The fact is you never know for sure what's actually in the "candy".
Yes, with marijuana now legal for medical use in 30 US states and for recreation in nine, more and more people are finding new ways to purchase the drug in the form of chocolates, gummies, and suckers. And now the Drug Enforcement Administration in St. Louis is warning parents about the dangers of drug-laced candy and how exactly to spot them.
Last year, the DEA found candy laced with marijuana sold in packages designed to resemble ordinary candy but with different names such as Twixed, Keef Kat, Munchy Way, 3 Rastateers, Rasta Reese's, according to a KWCH report.
In recent years, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of commercially produced drug-laced candy in the Midwest. "Marijuana-laced or methamphetamine-laced candies can go undetected, but have harmful effects on our children if ingested," special agent William J. Callahan said.
"Halloween is a time for kids to be kids and have fun with family and friends. We don't want anyone falling prey to an avoidable tragedy. Please check your candy closely. If you come across any suspicious treats that have unusual wrapping or misspelled candy labels, give it to your local police department."
Candy laced with meth is already on the rise in places like Ohio where a five-year-old boy called Braylen Carwell tested positive for methamphetamine after eating candy laced with the drug.
"The left side of his face was just droopy and then he fell and then he couldn't move his left arm," Julia Pence, the boy's mother, told WSYX-TV. He was expected to make a full recovery.
In California, several doctors have issued warnings to parents that pot candy could easily end up in their kids trick-or-treat collection. Dispensaries and the marijuana industry, on the other hand, are insisting that the issue has been blown out of proportion.
Adults are now legally able to consume cannabis in any form they want at any time they want for recreational purposes in nine states and Washington, D.C. Unsurprisingly, this has led to a massive boost in the cannabis industry, particularly when it comes to edibles. In California alone, edible marijuana brought in a whopping $180 billion last year, and sales of treats have tripled and doubled in other states where the drug has been legalized.
But just as there has been a huge increase in sales for marijuana growers and retailers, there also been a huge increase in related accidents and emergency room visits. In particular, there has been a rise in teens and children ending up in the hospital after consuming some form of cannabis whether intentionally or not.
In fact, recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data suggests that marijuana-related ER visits increased by more than 60 percent between 2005 and 2011.
Eating marijuana-laced candy accidentally could lead to a sudden heart rate increase, feelings of anxiety or panic and other complications, depending on what drugs were in the candies, and how concentrated they were.
Hopefully, now that you're more aware of the facts and stats, you can make a better-informed decision about whether going door-to-door in pursuit of candy is the best way to spend Halloween, and, of course, carefully check your kids' spoils to ensure they don't contain anything untoward!