- A Missouri police department issued a warning after a parent said she found THC gummies in her child’s Halloween candy.
- Some locals were suspicious of the warning, calling it a political move by those who oppose recreational marijuana use.
- An expert said he has never found a verified report of a child killed or seriously hurt by a contaminated treat.
A Missouri police department issued a warning about a report of THC gummies found in a child’s Halloween candy, but some locals and an expert have expressed doubt about the longstanding panic over drug-laced candy being given to children.
The St. Charles Police Department issued a safety alert on Sunday asking those who attended a “Trunk or Treat” event at a local restaurant on Saturday to check their children’s candy after a parent said she found THC gummies in her child’s candy bag after the event.
“We have a single report of a parent discovering a small bag of Delta 88 Edibles which appear similar to gummy worms,” the department said on Facebook, though a spokesperson later corrected that they were “Delta 8” gummy worms.
“Officers went to the car show and could not locate anyone passing out any Delta 8 gummy worms. We believe the gummy worms were somehow mixed in with a container of candy someone was passing out. This report has been isolated to this single incident which leads us to believe there was no malicious intent and was accidental, however, we are trying to determine how it occurred,” a spokesperson for St. Charles PD said in a comment to Insider.
Warnings of nefarious plots to drug children’s candy around Halloween have persisted for years, despite little to no evidence.
Melissa Kuhl, a photographer based in St. Charles City, called the report “nonsense,” while Leigh Kaufman from O’Fallon called it a “typical scare tactic used around Halloween.” Both made their doubts known with comments on St. Charles PD’s Facebook post.
When asked about the skepticism of local St. Charles residents on Facebook, the St. Charles PD spokesperson said: “As far as the veracity of the incident, it did occur as reported above.”
A relative of the mother who reported finding the THC gummies declined an interview on her behalf, citing harassment that she’s received since filing the report.
Warnings of drug-laced candy ‘always’ loom around Halloween
Kuhl told Insider that she could not believe that the police department had issued a statement without “doing a more thorough investigation.”
“There are always those memes that go around about people handing out drugs this time of year but this year it’s been worse than others,” Kuhl told Insider. “I don’t use marijuana or any THC products but I have a low tolerance for false stories. Nothing about this story adds up.”
Kaufman, who told Insider she runs a Facebook group called “MO Medical Marijuana,” said the timing of the police department’s warning seemed “all too coincidental” considering that recreational marijuana use is on the ballot in Missouri next month.
NAACP chapters in St. Louis, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County have all endorsed the amendment on the ballot, though the Missouri state NAACP chapter opposed it, stating that it would criminalize marijuana possession, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That claim has been disputed by the Legal Missouri 2022 campaign, which said the amendment doesn’t include any criminal penalties past a misdemeanor charge on the third offense instead of the felony charge currently in place, per the Post-Dispatch.
“This industry has fought negative stigmas: ‘reefer madness’ mindsets for decades and is used to seeing these types of stories pop up. Especially when it is a single report, it is very hard to believe,” Kaufman said. “I can assure you that those of us that consume cannabis and cannabis products keep a very close eye on our edibles and would not just give them away, especially to children. We have spent decades fighting the negative stigmas and would not jeopardize that.”
An expert ‘can’t find any evidence’ of contaminated treats
The lore of poisoned or dangerous treats on Halloween dates back decades. Before it was marijuana or THC, there were warnings of poison in candy bars and razor blades in apples, according to The New York Times. Though the reports have persisted, evidence backing up the claims is scarce, one expert told Insider.
Joel Best, a sociology and criminal justice professor at the University of Delaware, told Insider he has studied decades of news and police reports of drugged or dangerous candy at Halloween.
“I can’t find any evidence that any child has been killed or seriously hurt by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating,” Best told Insider, noting that there have been “deaths that have been reported, and in each case, the story’s been retracted. It turned out that there were health problems or something like that.”
Best added that “you cannot prove a negative” that no child has ever received a drugged treat, but he said there would be little payoff for someone to poison children on Halloween.
“You cannot prove that nobody’s ever died. You can’t prove that nobody’s ever received a contaminated treat. But I don’t think that this is a big thing to worry about,” Best said. “It’s a possibility that somehow a gummy bear of the wrong variety got mixed in with the candy. It’s possible that somebody did this as a prank. It’s possible somebody did it hoping to harm some child. You can’t know.”
Best said parents may impose any safeguards they want to prevent dangerous trick-or-treating incidents, but he added that there are dozens of other ways kids regularly hurt themselves on October 31.
“Halloween’s very dangerous. You send tens of millions of kids out into the dark one night a year, and they wind up in the emergency room,” Best said. “They get hit by cars, and they trip over their costumes and fall down and hurt themselves, or they can’t see out of their mask. All kinds of stuff happen to them, but they aren’t getting poisoned.”