Moral panic of this kind bubbles up every year in mid-October, and the legalization of marijuana across the country – which can take the form of edibles that resemble brownies, cookies, or candy – has added a new flavor to that familiar witches’ brew. However, as MTV News reported, “we’ve been to this dance before. The myth of poisoned or drugged Halloween candy has been going around at this time of year since at least the ‘60s. Before marijuana candies, Americans have been scared of everything from heroin to metal shards in their kids’ sugary loot.”
Despite this annual outbreak of alarm, “there’s never been a proven case of some random madman intentionally poisoning random trick-or-treaters. In fact, children are more likely to be poisoned by a family member than a stranger around Halloween.”
“I have always been skeptical of claims that maniacs try to poison kids’ treats,” observes Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Delaware. “Why would they do that?”
The implicit answer, as TFTP’s William Grigg writes, from the perspective of those promoting the panic, is that drug fiends are motivated by a sadistic desire to defile childhood innocence. Just as “war on terror” propaganda cultivates a directionless fear of swarthy, savagely bearded foreigners who “hate us for our freedom,” agitprop conducted in the “war on drugs” endlessly recapitulates similar themes put into circulation decades ago by the arch-prohibitionist Harry Anslinger.