Editorial – A new risk on Halloween

Published 6:15 pm Friday, October 28, 2022

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Safety on Halloween is the highest priority. And parental vigilance is more important than ever as kiddos enjoy a fun night of trick-or-treating.

From state Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office comes word of a threat we hadn’t considered: drug-laced edibles disguised as treats.

The counterfeit tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-laced products are designed to resemble popular brands of candy and snacks, making it difficult for children, and even adults, to differentiate between legitimate food products and copycat THC-infused products.

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“As Halloween nears, I want to remind parents about the dangers of copycat THC edibles and encourage them to check their child’s Halloween candy this year,” Miyares said. “Due to the deceptively intentional design of these products, it is possible they could accidentally get mixed into Halloween candy.”

In Virginia these copycat products are illegal. The THC dosage labeled on copycat edibles is widely inconsistent, inaccurate and, in some cases, contains 10 times the amount of THC disclosed on the package. Tragically, a 4-year-old boy from Spotsylvania recently died due to consuming a “large amount of THC gummies.”

According to the Blue Ridge Poison Control Center Director Dr. Christopher Holstege, reactions to THC products tend to be more severe in children and even standard dosages of THC can have a stronger effect and negatively impact developing adolescent brains.

Symptoms of THC overdose in children may include profound sedation, trouble breathing, increased anxiety, agitation and tremulous behavior.

If you believe THC edibles have been accidentally consumed, please contact the Virginia Poison Control Center at 804-828-9123.

Additionally, if you witness these copycat products being sold in a store, you are encouraged to file a complaint with the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Section, identifying the product and the store. This can be done by phone at 800-552-9963 or by email at consumer@oag.state.va.us

Some other Halloween safety reminders for both kids and adults:

  • Wear costumes that say “flame resistant” on the label. If you make your costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.
  • Wear bright, reflective costumes or add strips of reflective tape so you’ll be more visible; make sure the costumes aren’t so long that you’re in danger of tripping.
  • Wear makeup and hats rather than costume masks that can obscure your vision.
  • Test the makeup you plan to use in advance. Put a small amount on the arm of the person who will be wearing it. If a rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation develop where the makeup was applied, don’t use it.
  • Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys from the Halloween bags.
  • Adult party-goers should plan ahead and designate a non-drinking, unimpaired driver, or use rideshare.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement immediately.
  • If you witness someone who is about to drive impaired, attempt to stop them but be as non-confrontational as possible. Enlist the help of others, if possible. Call law enforcement if attempts to stop them from driving fail.