LAKE MARY, Fla. - You’ve probably heard of it by now — rainbow fentanyl.
Dangerous drugs, disguised as candy. Law enforcement officers and even Florida’s Attorney General have warned about it ahead of Halloween.
But how worried should we really be?
It kind of depends on who you ask.
Reports on the possibility of fentanyl disguised as candy showing up in your kid's Halloween bag spiked after this report from the DEA
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody followed up on that, stating in a news release,
"While cases of dangerous substances being placed in trick-or-treat baskets may be rare, parents SHOULD ALWAYS inspect Halloween candy."
AG Moody held a news conference on the same subject.
"Parents, please talk to your children about fentanyl," she urged, later adding, "We have found in the past illicit substances, highly toxic, dangerous substances in children’s Halloween bags."
After that news conference though, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram walked back the agency’s initial warning a bit.
"We are not seeing it in elementary school, and we have not seen it in Halloween candy," said Milgram.
FOX 35 News checked with another expert on this: Joel Best.
He keeps an information database tracking media coverage back to 1958, studying what he calls "The myth of the Halloween sadist."
He says the whole concept of drugs in Halloween candy is a ridiculous myth.
"I have zero evidence that any child has ever been killed or seriously hurt in this way."
Best pointed out, it seems like we hear some version of this every year.
A few years ago, your kids might pull out a candy bar – only to find it’s actually marijuana, or that there are needles or razors inside. This year, the scare is over fentanyl.
"We have not seen any connection to Halloween," said DEA Administrator Milgram. "And I want to be very clear, any credible evidence, we will come out, and we will tell you."
So if there’s no connection, why is the AG saying there is?
The AG’s Office emphasized that the thought is not out of the realm of possibility, and told FOX 35 News in a statement,
"We want to get the warning out about how dangerous fentanyl is, especially with the massive amounts of fentanyl flooding into our country and now the bright-colored fentanyl that resembles candy and even being disguised in candy packaging."
The bigger problem, Attorney General Moody and the DEA agree, is the possibility of older kids grabbing drugs that look like candy at a party. Both also agree pills that look like candy are meant to draw in younger customers.
"I have no doubt that the cartels are trying to purposefully target children at a younger and younger age to get them addicted, which will ensure consistent profits," said Attorney General Moody.
But as for it being a problem on Halloween, Best says, think about this critically: Who would be handing children drug-laced candy? Drug dealers?
"Exactly what is the business plan? Are they going to get their lunch money?" Best prompted. "They aren’t in the habit of giving away their drugs. They particularly aren’t likely to give them away to elementary school children."
The fact is, fentanyl truly is an incredibly dangerous drug. There's plenty about it that's perfectly frightening on its own, and there are countless reports of other substances being laced with fentanyl. It takes only a very small amount to prove deadly, and it's extremely important to talk with your children about it.
However, the likelihood of it showing up in your kids' candy baskets should probably not be the highest-up on your list of worries this Halloween.