Opinion Brief

Pot-shaped candy: 'Addictive gateway treat'?

Pothead Lollipops are shaped like marijuana leaves. Should they be banned to protect kids from their pro-pot message?

City leaders in Buffalo, N.Y., are launching a war on candy — at least candy shaped like drugs. Pothead Lollipops and Ring Pots are sour-apple flavored sweets that contain no cannabis, but look like marijuana leaves. Anti-drug activists say the candy, packaged in a bag emblazoned with the word "legalize," sends kids the message that illegal drugs are okay. Two city council members are pushing to deny licenses to stores that sell the treats. Andrew Kalan, whose company makes the Ring Pots, responds: "It's just candy." Are the sweets harmless, or an "addictive gateway treat"?

Ban them. It is wrong to tell kids pot is harmless: These candies shouldn't even exist, says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer of Caron Treatment Centers in Pennsylvania, as quoted by Fox Business. "The teenage brain is a developing brain, and (smoking marijuana) is impacting how it develops." It's dangerous to use candy — with a cartoon character on the package flashing a peace sign, no less — to send kids the "message that it's okay to smoke, because it's not."
"Marijuana-shaped candy alarms parents, officials"

Censorship is the real danger: "Criticizing the candy is one thing," says Jacob Sullum at Reason, "but refusing to license retailers who plan to sell it crosses the line between debate and censorship." The city council members can speak out as much they want against the marijuana legalization message on the candy's wrapper. But in a country where everybody has the right to free speech, they ought to know that they can't just suppress any message they find offensive.
"Cannabis candy leaves sour taste in drug warriors' mouths"

So sell it... just not to kids: A ban might be overkill, says Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel, but it was stupid to put this product in the candy aisle of neighborhood convenience stores. This isn't a gateway item aiming to "introduce kids to the joys of weed" — it's "supposed to appeal to adult potheads." So put it "in the back of Spencer's next to the penis necklaces and boob-shaped cake pans" where it belongs, and everybody wins.
"Kids can now enjoy marijuana-shaped candy"

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