October surprise? Los Angeles cops blitz media with tales of pot-laced Halloween candy

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, October 30, 2010 14:27 EDT
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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wants parents to know about the latest “threat” to public safety: potheads who give their stash away to random children.

Bizarre as that may sound, the potential for pot-laced Halloween candy was the subject of a police media briefing on Friday. And they want everyone to know, it’s got nothing to do with politics.

Their warning, issued this year for the first time ever, comes just days before Californians will vote on Prop. 19, which would legalize cannabis consumption for adults over 21 and allow municipalities to collect taxes on sales. Possession of under one ounce of marijuana is already decriminalized state-wide, with the maximum penalty set at a fine of $100.

LA County Sheriff Lee Baca has publicly stated that he’s opposed to Prop. 19, but police insisted to multiple media outlets that their warning would have been issued no matter what was on the ballot.

People have been ingesting marijuana in food for decades and many legal dispensaries in California offer a wide variety of THC-laced foods.

These products are not marketed at all and still require a doctor’s recommendation to purchase.

Should California voters legalize cannabis on Nov. 2, the drug would still be illegal under federal law — meaning, it won’t necessarily be available at the neighborhood corner store right away.

Nevertheless, Capt. Ralph Ornelas told media that children and teens are the intended targets for medical edibles, adding that the department is worried drugged candy might end up in kids’ hands this Halloween.

They did not cite any specific knowledge of a plot afoot to distribute pot-laced candy. It is impossible to overdose on marijuana; by comparison, caffeine has been credited with more deaths.

Speaking to LA Weekly, Kris Hermes, spokesman for advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, scoffed at the warning.

“This is pure and simple a (public relations) campaign to combine youth and marijuana and scare the public,” he said, adding: “If they are truly concerned (about this issue), they should regulate the production of marijuana edibles.”

This video is from Vimeo user 89.3 KPCC, published Oct. 29, 2010.

LA sheriff’s warn of pot-laced treats from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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