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Colorado police warn parents about marijuana-laced candy ahead of Halloween

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Rick Wilking/Reuters

(Read caption) A marijuana-infused sour gummy bear candy (L) is shown next to a regular one at right in a photo illustration in Golden, Colo. Friday. As children prepare for Halloween on Oct. 31, police in Colorado are warning parents that some treats may not be all they seem. Since Colorado and Washington this year became the first US states to allow recreational sales of pot to adults, much of the public debate has focused on marijuana-infused products such as chocolates, cookies and candies, given their potential to attract children or be eaten accidentally.

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Maybe they should go back to giving away those boxes of raisins? 

With Halloween less than two weeks away, Colorado police are warning parents that candy or other sweets laced with marijuana could potentially wind up in children’s trick-or-treat bags.

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“Apples, gummy bears, there's a ton of different edible stuff out there on the market that's infused with marijuana,” said Sgt. Brett Hinkle from the Denver police’s marijuana unit in an official podcast.

This year, the state became the first in the nation to legalize marijuana sales to adults for recreational use, followed by Washington. Both states’ experiences are being watched carefully by other states considering whether to decriminalize or legalize the drug. In November, voters in Oregon and Alaska will vote on whether to also legalize recreational marijuana use in their states. 

Anti-marijuana activists in Colorado have expressed concern that a child might accidentally eat candy, cookies, or brownies that contain the drug. Lollipops, Pixy stix, and peanut butter cups are among the sweets that have been infused with marijuana. 

“This is highly deceptive,” Gina Carbone, a mother and co-founder of Smart Colorado, told Reuters. “Why do regulators and elected officials in Colorado think that everyday candy loaded with marijuana somehow won't appeal to our kids?”

There have been at least two reports in the state of children falling ill after accidentally ingesting marijuana-laced edibles – in one case after a mother had unknowingly brought the candy home. Colorado has passed a law that by Jan. 1, 2016, all pot edibles must be shaped, stamped, colored, or marked with a symbol indicating they contain marijuana and are not for consumption by children.

Denver police are recommending that parents only let children have packaged candy from well-known brands and to throw out anything that appears to be tampered with.

To be clear, police have not expressed concern that someone malicious might pass out the candy to unwary trick-or-treaters, a la the old urban myth about apples with razor blades hidden inside. Their concern, rather, is that a child might accidentally pick up gummy bears or some other candy laced with marijuana.

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“A kid is not going to be able to tell the difference,” Denver Police spokesman Ron Hackett told ABC News. “My daughter is 7 years old. She could care less if it’s growing mold. She’s going to eat it.” 

Material from Reuters was used in this report.