Pot Chocolate and the Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act

August 6, 2010 at 10:41 am 4 comments

These candies look vaguely familiar, right?

That’s what Hershey Chocolate thought too. So in 2007 they filed a suit for trademark infringement against the manufacturer, Kenneth Affolter, and his company Beyond Bomb. Affolter was already in prison for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana plants. The Hershey rip offs were technically legal under California law. But Hershey understandably was disturbed. Imitation being, in this case, not exactly the kind of flattery they were looking for.

Beyond Bomb has a special market niche: creating marijuana-laced products for the pseudo-legal “medical marijuana” market in California. I say “pseudo-legal” because although California law allows for the sale of marijuana for medical purposes, the Feds still consider it illegal.

But in the grey area of California’s standards, a whole industry has sprung up. It isn’t just baggies and pipes. It’s brownies, cookies, ice cream, peanut butter, and granola bars. And yes, lollipops and candy bars, all laced with cannabis.

Beyond Bomb quickly withdrew these candy bars after Hershey got on their case. But they made a reappearance last week in the passage of S.258, the Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act that was passed in the Senate. When the bill was first crafted in 2007, the big scare was candy meth. Candy meth turns out to have been mostly a fantasy, so keeping hope alive for this bill needed new culprits. Enter the medical marijuana business.

When this bill passed the Senate last week, Senator Feinstein’s office refered explicitly to the marijuana candy products that the bill would penalize, products with names like Rasta Reese’s, 3 Rastateers and Munchy Way. Pot brownies are on the suspect list as well. While college students fear the worst, the Senator’s office has reassured them that the penalties only apply to anyone selling these drug-laced candies to kids under 18.

So here’s the problem: who was selling 3 Rastateers and Munchy Way bars to kids under 18? It’s not like dealers package these up and roam the school yards. These were being sold in heavily regulated, very carefully run medical dispensaries. I’m not saying all the dispensing was strictly “medical,” but what the pot industry in California is trying very hard to do is be a normal business, not to be drug dealers. Earlier this year the patent office briefly approved a trademark category for marijuana related products; entrepreneurs rushed in to grab the best trademark names before the higher ups realized that, insofar as pot is still illegal, it didn’t look good for a federal agency like USPTO to be encouraging things with trademark protections.

And I think this why the Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act finally went through this year. The development of the pot business is drawing a lot of attention. The Act is a way of putting pressure on the marijuana advocates and doing everything possible to prevent that business from normalizing. Kids are just an excuse, a smokescreen. The California experiment suggests that “medical marijuana” is a pretty flexible category. Those who would like to keep pot on the illegal side of psychoactive substances get a lot farther with “save the children” than with “save the stoners.”

This whole episode reminds me of the dust-up over Camel Orbs earlier this year, see my comments on Tocacco Candy.

See also my post on the background of this bill and the “candy meth” myth.

Entry filed under: Current Candy News. Tags: , .

The Candy Meth Myth: Kids and Candy Drugs When Candy Became Sin: Lulu Hunt Peters and the Invention of Dieting

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Leona  |  August 9, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    heh heh. Those “candies” look delicious. Just the shiny, bright wrappers is enough for me to just plow first, inspect later. But then I imagine I wouldn’t be inspecting later – just more plowing.

    Reply
    • 2. Candy Professor  |  August 10, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      Yes, I doubt anyone could tell the difference between the zip-lock baggies with color xerox labels and the mylar factory sealed wrappers. Careful next time you’re in 7-11!

      Reply
  • 3. Schuyler Campbell  |  August 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Actually, since shortly after Obama took office, the Attorney General of the United States has altered its position on states’ regulation of marijuana, holding that a state may lawfully regulate medicinal marijuana dispensaries. So they are no-longer pseudo-legal, but fully legal. There is a measure on this November’s ballot, Prop. 19, in California to fully legalize marijuana, regulating it similar to alcohol. It is unclear whether federal law will preempt this law (making Prop. 9 unconstitutional). It would be up to the Attorney General to decide whether or not to prosecute the state of California, though the current administration would be unlikely to do so, IMHO, particularly given the $1.4 billion worth of tax revenue Prop. 19 will supposedly raise.

    Reply
    • 4. Candy Professor  |  August 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

      Thanks for your expert analysis. But I’m confused: “decline to prosecute” doesn’t exactly make the activity lawful? I had the impression that federal drug enforcement continues to view MJ as an illegal narcotic and CA and OR laws conflict with federal law. But my thing is candy which luckily is lawful in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

      Reply

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