“Do not get tricked while you’re getting treats!” Tampa Police Department (TPD) posted to Twitter on Oct. 30.
The post claimed that Tampa Police squad 363 served a search warrant in the area of W Kennedy and S. Fielding Avenues and seized 380 pounds of edible marijuana packaged in Halloween candy packages.
“Be cautious of who you receive candy from. Stay safe!” TPD wrote. Below the text, a picture of what looks like the Halloween candy the department claimed to be edibles.
Then, the comments started pouring in.
“Guys….give us a break. Nobody is giving away free drug laced candy,” one commenter wrote. “Focus on real issues like ending your program that kicks people out of their homes and onto the street.” The comment— which refers to TPD’s controversial crime-free multi housing program— got more likes than TPD’s original post about the weed edibles.
More comments followed and a full-on roast ensued.
“Focus on violent crime and we aren't buying your narrative,” one comment said.
“Bullshit, this is why no one trusts the police, no one’s wasting their drugs giving it to children,” read another.
Two people jumped in to thank TPD, one of them complaining about legalized marijuana and “liberals”. But the vast majority of the comments were dragging the police department for its framing of the seizure. On TPD’s Facebook post, the roasting went even further, with over 700 comments, most of them ridiculing TPD.
TPD jumped in the Facebook comments to respond to a commenter with a GIF, but didn’t seem to directly address the fact that they had just perpetuated a myth that’s been disproven and dismissed time and time again, including recently by the New York Times (NYT).
“As children go trick-or-treating, it is exceedingly unlikely that your neighbor will put a razor blade in an apple, poison a wrapped Snickers bar, or, in this year’s version of the same old story, swap THC-laced gummies for regular candy, tricking innocent youngsters into accidentally getting high,” NYT wrote on Oct. 27. “Historically, such acts have not just been rare, but very close to completely undocumented. The lack of evidence has done little to reassure parents, the police and some in the media, who have repeated the mostly unverified claims for decades.”
NYT then dove into the history of the myth with expert input and past reports.
This national trend of police sharing a myth with the help of the media happened in our backyard with Bay News 9 putting out an article about TPD’s post called “Treats Not Tricks” without questioning TPD’s myth-driven narrative.
A quick Google search about weed being given away for free in edibles during Halloween shows several stories going back years debunking the myth.
“...almost every year, such reports are swiftly and thoroughly debunked,” Rolling Stone wrote in 2019. “The ‘Halloween candy is spiked with THC’ myth is essentially a new version of the urban legend about razor blades being smuggled into Halloween candy (which has also been thoroughly debunked)...”
Commenters across social media were well aware of this, despite TPD being seemingly unaware, which led to hilarious parody in the comments.
“Great job keeping are community safe from pot drugs!” local comedian and musician “Dale Mabry” wrote in a Facebook comment. “The only thing I wish they'd of done differently is, instead of arresting the person who was going to give these out for Halloween candy, they could of waited for each kid to go trick or treating their, and then when they get pot drugs put in there pillow cases from the house passing them out, they could of been waiting around the corner to arrest each kid for possessing the pot drugs in their pillow cases. That way, they could have got lot more arrests and kept are community even safer.”
“Send me this person’s address I will dispose of it all making Halloween safe again,” wrote another commenter.
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay reached out to TPD to obtain the report about the drug seizure for more details but Jamel Lanee, public safety information officer for TPD, told CL, “The case is still an open and active investigation.”
One commenter had a theory of what might happen during the investigation. “Half of those [the edibles] will come up missing in the evidence room,” they wrote.
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