Cannabis-laced fruit chews that resemble Starburst candies somehow got into the mix at an Alameda elementary school Halloween event, and one child got sick, while at least three other children received the illicit candies in their bags.
There’s an old scare story that usually surfaces around Halloween time of year that drug dealers are putting fentanyl in Halloween candy, a story that has largely been debunked. But one incident at an Alameda elementary school this weekend does legitimately involve an adult-use recreational drug turning up in childrens’ trick-or-treat candy, as KGO reports that cannabis-infused fruit chews were somehow handed out at a school trick-or-treating event.
KGO reports that one child consumed the THC-infused fruit chew and became sick. KTVU adds that a total of four families found the cannabis candies in their childrens’ bags.
Cannabis-infused fruit chews were found mixed in with students' candy from an Alameda elementary school event. At least one child ate the candy from Amelia Earhart Elementary. https://t.co/R1HueQIEwR— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) October 31, 2023
The event was a “Trunk or Treat” PTA event in the school parking lot Sunday at Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Alameda. (The event is named thusly because families were handing out candy from the trunks of their cars.) By Monday morning, one child had become sickened by the marijuana-infused candy.
Obviously, the school district went into crisis mode. "A student had found, in the bag of candy they brought home, an edible with about 10 mg of THC in it," Alameda Unified School District superintendent Pasquale Scuderi told KGO. "We do know the student appears to have ingested the candy unintentionally, the family got help, and the student is stabilized and is doing well."
The cannabis candy in question is indeed a legal, adult-use product called Kiva Confections Lost Farm fruit chews, commonly available at Bay Area dispensaries. They generally sell for $20 for a bag of ten and indeed, one of them could easily be confused for an individual Starburst, particularly to a kid who wouldn't know better.
"It looked like a standalone Starburst," parent Beth Meloy told KTVU, apparently after the edible was found in her son’s bag too. "I would never have looked had I not gotten those emails and phone calls and it prevented my child from eating something that could have been really dangerous for him."
According to KGO, the school district quickly sent out a Monday message to families. “Families who attended a PTA Halloween event at Earhart Elementary School have found cannabis-infused fruit chews in their student's candy,” the email alert said. “Please know that we are working quickly to determine the source of this candy and if other children received it. If you have any information on these fruit chews or if you also find cannabis candy in your student's collection, please contact us immediately.”
The Alameda Police Department put out the above alert, which is proactive and commendable. Though we should note that other than the Kiva fruit chew that looks like a Starburst, all of the other above-pictured products are from the illegal market, and are not licensed to be sold in California. (While we don’t see many illegal “underground” dispensaries selling such unlicensed products in San Francisco, these certainly do exist in Los Angeles and New York City.) Many of those images are of products that were sued out of existence years ago, during the unregulated "Wild West" era of medical use. We do not see such infused copycat products at legal Bay Area dispensaries.
But still, individual servings of even legitimate cannabis candy can be mistaken for children’s candy. And yes, somehow weed-infused edibles did make it into the trick-or-treat candy handed out at al elementary school.
So did some stoner parent make a mistake? Was this some dangerous and highly ill-advised prank? The work of deplorable teens who stole their parents’ stash?
"So far we have done some interviews with different staff members, people who were at the event," Alameda Police chief Nishant Joshi told KTVU. "Our goal is to figure out how this occurred and whether there was malicious intent, was it an accident and how can we prevent this from happening again."
We don’t know if this will lead to some soul-searching moment for the cannabis industry. Kiva Confections is a pretty well-respected brand (best known for their infused chocolates), and they may receive some public pressure to do some work on this labeling. But for whatever reason, cannabis industry edibles certainly skew disproportionately toward candy and sweets.
And if the industry sticks with the status quo of this packaging, it could be an annual thing that parents get a similar Halloween scare.
Image via Alameda Police Department