Buffalo City Leaders Take Pot Shot at 'Not-Pot' Candy

Published in CSP Daily News

Marijuana-themed merchandise alarms parents, officials

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Candy shaped like marijuana that is showing up on store shelves around the country won't get kids high, but city leaders and anti-drug activists in Buffalo, N.Y., are upset over it, reported the Associated Press.

"We're already dealing with a high amount of drug abuse and drug activity and trying to raise children so they don't think using illegal substances is acceptable," said city councilmember Darius Pridgen. "So to have a licensed store sell candy to kids that depicts an illegal substance is just ignorant and irresponsible."

The "Pothead Ring Pots," "Pothead Lollipops" and bagged candy are distributed to retail stores by the novelty supply company Kalan LP, Lansdowne, Pa. It also wholesales online for $1 for a lollipop and $1.50 for a package of three rings.

Company president Andrew Kalan said the candy, on the market six to nine months and in 1,000 stores around the country, "does pretty well."

He added, "This is the first complaint I've heard, and people are usually not shy. I'm actually surprised this is the first."

Kalan said his company carries several products with the marijuana leaf and "legalize" message to accommodate growing demand in the movement to legalize marijuana. "We don't advocate for a political position. We just look at what the marketplace wants and respond to it," the wholesaler said. "It's just candy. ... It's sour apple flavor, it doesn't claim to be pot in disguise or anything like that."

An irate parent brought the candy to Pridgen's attention, hoping the city could apply pressure and get it out of stores, the news agency said.

Pridgen and councilmember Demone Smith displayed the candy at a recent Common Council meeting, where Pridgen said he would refuse to grant licenses to stores in his district that planned to sell the merchandise and would seek to embarrass stores that carry it.

The bags of "Pothead Sour Gummy Candy," and lollipops shaped like marijuana leaves appear to be a recent addition to the inventory of some corner stores. The sour apple-flavored candy contains nothing illegal, but with its marijuana leaf, the word "Legalize" and a joint-smoking, peace sign-waving user on the packaging, critics say it is an invitation to try the real thing.

In 2008, the Hershey Co. stopped making Ice Breakers Pacs in response to criticism that the mints looked too much like illegal street drugs, the report said. Police in Philadelphia complained that the packets, nickel-sized dissolvable pouches with a powdered sweetener inside, closely resembled tiny heat-sealed bags used to sell powdered street drugs.

Candy cigarettes and fruity or energy drink-infused alcoholic beverages have been criticized for targeting young people, added AP. And in 1997, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said the Joe Camel cigarette ads and packaging violated federal law because they appealed to kids under 18. The tobacco company, R.J. Reynolds, eventually shelved the caricature.