116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Halloween spooky season is upon us. What better time for a good old fashioned moral panic? We are faced with THC candy, nicotine vapes and all manner of other things that go bump in the night.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller this week warned Iowans about the hazards of marijuana edibles to children on Halloween. He shared photos on social media of marijuana products with packages resembling common food brands such as Oreo and Doritos.
“Halloween festivities are just around the corner. Make sure you check your child’s treats for these illegal cannabis products that look like popular snacks and candy,” Miller’s office wrote in a Twitter post that has since been deleted.
To put it uncharitably, this is a coordinated bipartisan misinformation campaign by top state law enforcement officials. Miller and his peers from several states were parroting a warning issued by the attorney general of Connecticut, which recently legalized marijuana for adult use.
But the truth is no one is going to give their expensive weed to your kids for trick-or-treat. Drugs in Halloween candy have never been a real thing. Facing swift backlash, Miller’s team backtracked, deleting the bad tweet and posting another with no reference to the fall holiday.
Just like drug-laced Halloween candy, the gateway effect of drugs is a myth that refuses to die.
“We did not intend to say that these are showing up in kids’ treat baskets. We are not aware of that happening,” a spokesman told The Des Moines Register’s Lee Rood.
There are known cases of children eating high doses of THC they thought was regular candy. It’s probably not life-threatening, but it’s definitely not good either. Almost invariably, though, kids in these stories find drugs that belong to their parents or another familiar adult, not strangers.
So, secure your stash and your young kids should be fine. But what about your teens who are too old for trick-or-treating? Could they be out getting hooked on drugs?
There was another scare this month after federal regulators authorized a nicotine vaping device for the first time. Tobacco prohibitionists worry that will lead to more youth vaping.
State Sen. Joe Bolkcom was quoted in the Daily Iowan calling vapes “an entryway nicotine device.” Just like drug-laced Halloween candy, the gateway effect of drugs is a myth that refuses to die.
In reality, teen smoking has been declining for a couple decades and teen vaping is down in the past couple years. Research about the “gateway” from vaping to smoking often ignores confounding variables. It’s probably not that vaping leads to smoking, it’s that people who are predisposed to take drugs might happen to start with vapes.
This century’s anti-vape crusade is strikingly similar to last century’s war on marijuana. Both traffic in propaganda and half-truths.
What’s especially peculiar and frustrating here is that Miller, whose office is fear mongering about marijuana, correctly embraces nicotine vapes as a harm reduction tool for smokers. And his fellow Democrat Bolkcom, who is buying into the trumped up anti-vape hysteria, rejects the same when it comes to marijuana.
Maybe the two of them could talk it through this weekend over a round of THC Cheetos and a few puffs on a Vuse.
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