Trick-or-Treating Warnings Don't Stop Halloween From Being Killer for Dispensaries

Trick-or-Treating Warnings Don't Stop Halloween From Being Killer for Dispensaries
Jacqueline Collins
As the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, Colorado went through the growing pains of legalization before other states even knew what they were. Halloween, a holiday stuck with unwarranted reefer madness in newly legalized states, is a great example of that.

In 2014, Colorado's first year of retail pot sales, the Denver Police Department put out a video warning parents about pot-infused candy appearing in children's trick-or-treat bags. The video got over 150,000 views on YouTube (over 110,000 more than DPD's next-most-viewed video, about license plate readers), but garnered backlash from the marijuana industry and advocates, as no incidents involving edibles being given to trick-or-treaters were reported in Denver in 2014 — or 2015, 2016 or 2017, for that matter.

Since 2014, DPD has backed off the edibles warnings, instead issuing generic warnings to parents about checking their children's candy for anything dangerous. The same can't be said for those in other states. Law enforcement and anti-marijuana groups in Florida, Nevada and New Jersey warned of edibles infiltrating Halloween candy bags last year.

A media outlet in Poughkeepsie, New York, stoked the flames last month with talks of "cannabis-laced pills shaped like Hello Kitty, Homer Simpson and the Minions" and comparisons of edibles to brightly colored ecstasy pills. Earlier in October, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued a warning about edibles on Halloween night, saying, "You don't want to accidentally ingest, or let a child ingest, something with a harmful substance in it that could easily be mistaken for a common cookie or brownie."

But are the fears warranted?

The only report we could find of a child, Halloween and marijuana edibles intersecting happened in February of this year, when children in Arizona took a mixture of candy to school in a Halloween bowl. Five children became ill after eating the candy, which included a mix of leftover Halloween candy and candy from family and friends, as well as THC-infused items. No charges were filed in the case.

That's it. That's the only one.

According to a recent article from Medium, parents should fear for their kids' safety on Halloween night, but those fears shouldn't stem from candy filled with marijuana or razor blades, writes author Randy Robinson:

A new study published today by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Halloween isn’t just associated with a higher rate of traffic crashes. The spookiest of holidays also carries an increased risk of pedestrian fatalities, namely children.

According to the CDC, children are four times more likely to get hit by a car on Halloween than any other night. Since traffic fatalities remain one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., killing over 40,000 Americans last year alone, this is no danger to, ahem, blow off.

Dispensary sales in Colorado seem to be doing just fine on Halloween in spite of the misguided fears surrounding edibles, according to dispensary analytics firm BDS Analytics, which says Colorado pot shops pulled in nearly $4 million on October 31 alone in 2017. Edibles were actually sold at a slightly lesser rate on Halloween and the weekend before it, BDS numbers show, responsible for less than 15 percent of all dispensary sales.

"It looks like flower and concentrates dominate even more on Halloween," explains BDS spokesman Doug Brown. "Both edibles and pre-rolls see dips compared to surrounding weekends."

In fact, according to Brown, it'd be cheaper for an evil-doer to stock up on edibles for the holiday after Halloween. "[Halloween was] the highest Tuesday until we get to the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. I’d be curious to see how Thanksgiving sales go," he says. "We already know Black Friday is huge."

So beware of Black Friday, parents. You never know if that cheap flat-screen TV might come with a couple pot brownies hidden in the box.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell