Halloween candy (Jason Varden, AP)

Opinion: ‘Halloweed’ candy hysteria is unfounded and insulting, so let’s stop

I worked in the airline industry for many years prior to becoming chief marketing officer of Dixie Brands, Inc., which makes marijuana-infused edibles, drinks and topicals. Given that travel was at its craziest over the holidays, and we were always one snow storm away from catastrophe, my time served in the airline biz meant that holidays became something to dread.

I remember one year I had to tell hundreds of travelers, individually, that they weren’t going home for Christmas. (I think that was the blizzard of 2006.) When I left that business and I was able to have a normal Thanksgiving or Christmas break with my family, the term holiday was once again redefined for me.

But now I fear I’m about to lose access to another great family holiday — Halloween. There has been an inordinate level of fear, and perhaps confusion, flooding the news about the high risk of “Halloweed” candy being given to our children, and it threatens to take away a great holiday from not only those of us in the industry but families from around our community. It gives us one more reason to doubt our humanity, to close doors and to fuel our distrust of our neighbors and friends.

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As a father of three kids (6, 10 and 12), there is nothing more precious to me than my children. So, rather than ranting and raving about the lunacy of this unfounded fear — note: there has never been a documented case of a child intentionally being given marijuana candy on Halloween — I decided to consider all of the ways that we can keep our children safe on Halloween. Turns out, unlike the Halloweed scare, there is some real data to support safety concerns in other areas.

For instance, did you know that Halloween, according to a study commissioned by State Farm, is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrian fatalities? Kids have a greater chance of being fatally injured by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year, including the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day.

The Columbus Post-Dispatch backed this study up with their own analysis of data from the Ohio Department of Transportation and came to the conclusion that “a pedestrian or bicycle rider is 35 percent more likely to be struck by a car in the last week of October than at any other time during the year.”

Have there been any emergency room visits for accidental consumption of marijuana on Halloween? Not to my knowledge. But there have been thousands of ER visits over the 60-day Halloween period attributed to things like costume malfunctions and knife wounds from slippery pumpkin carving. In fact 4,400 people visited the ER for Halloween-related injuries between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2013, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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To further support that point, the American College of Emergency Physicians says that the types of injuries that send most kids to emergency departments on Halloween have nothing to do with candy. Instead the most common reasons for an ER visit are eye injuries from sharp objects, burns from flammable costumes and injuries from collisions with vehicles.

The list goes on and on of things we should, statistically, be concerned about in relation to our children. There is nothing that strikes more fear in my heart than thinking about one of my kids being exposed to danger or being hurt. But as parents we do the best we can to protect them and to use common sense to guide our parenting — the same common sense we should use as responsible members of our communities.

The amount of hysteria that has been generated around marijuana candy is not only unfounded, it’s insulting to a legalized industry that is striving to do all it can to ensure we meet the highest standards of safety. Marijuana, in its many forms, has been around far longer than the urban legends of razor blades and poisoned apples, or even cars, yet there has never been a case of some unsuspecting child being given a marijuana edible on Halloween.

Making the assumption that now that marijuana is legal, we as a community will suddenly lose common sense and decency by giving a child marijuana? It reeks of a very malicious form of discrimination against those who choose to use marijuana as responsible adults.

Let us all hope and strive for a safe but festive Halloween, one that celebrates the traditions of our families, neighborhoods and communities — and one that revels in the joys of kids. Let’s hope the only fear that comes this Halloween is inspired by a great costume or haunted house. Look through your kids’ candy bags, and if you see a candy that is unwrapped or unfamiliar, throw it away. That’s just common sense. And if you’re anything like me, it might mean one less candy I get to steal from my kids!

Joe Hodas is the chief marketing officer at Colorado-based marijuana company Dixie Brands, Inc.