With Halloween approaching and an initiative on Florida ballots to legalize marijuana, Sheriff Jerry Demings shares many of the same concerns as parents of children – namely, what if they accidentally eat marijuana-laced candy?
The packaging, after all, can sometimes look indistinguishable from regular, mainstream candies like lollipops or branded names like Klondike Bars.
At a press conference held at the Children’s Safety Village, Demings was joined by Drug Free America Foundation Executive Director Calvina Fay and Dr. Alfred Aleguas, managing director of the Florida Poison Control Center, where they all warned against the dangers of marijuana.
Tales were spun, mostly by Fay, telling horror stories of young people hospitalized after accidentally taking weed through food items. Speaking in a hushed and horrified tone, she bemoaned what could happen if Amendment 2 passed in November – up to 2,000 shops selling marijuana across the state, she said; or over 5,000 according to some proponents of the amendment.
“No other state has seen that many,” she said. “With the commercialization of marijuana, we worry that they could target kids through edibles. It’s like when tobacco companies used to put out flavored cigarettes or use cartoon characters on their packages – it’s the same thing with marijuana industry. You can’t tell the difference sometimes. I’ve been given a lollipop with marijuana in it. It looked exactly like a regular lollipop.”
Demings shied away from taking a hard anti-marijuana stance at the press conference, saying his focus was just on making sure everyone was aware that children may be susceptible to marijuana advertising, and thus awareness needed to be raised – in addition, because there’s little legislative oversight or rules on marijuana edibles’ packaging or advertising.
“The advertisements are clearly attractive to kids,” he said. “There are warning labels on them, but does a six year old really know the difference before eating it? I know people say parents should be responsible and keep weed away, like alcohol and cigarettes. But many don’t.”
By raising awareness, Demings and the others hoped to prevent unintentional poisoning of children with marijuana-laced food and also possibly prevent impaired driving.
Demings spoke about impaired driving from a marijuana high, too, saying it would be problematic if Amendment 2 passed due to the lack of any consensus on what constitutes impairment from a marijuana high.
“If Amendment 2 passes, we hope the Florida Department of Health will put into play guidelines about packaging marijuana edibles, to make them as safe as possible. But none of us know what’s going to happen yet.”
But for now, parents will just have to give a bit of extra attention to the packaging on the candy their children bring home this Halloween.