Williamsburg police are defending Facebook posts Saturday night warning parents to check their children’s Halloween candy carefully following a report from a parent that their child’s trick-or-treat candy contained a CBD gummy bear.
“I hate that it caused parents to feel like we were fear mongering or whatever they want to fear. I don’t care. If it happened today, I would do the exact same thing again because regardless how you feel about CBD oil or THC products that is not something you want a three or four or five year old child to get,” said Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird.
“I understand that there are legitimate uses for it. I understand that doctors prescribe it for children, who have seizures. I get that, but that doctor knows what he is doing and what milligram of that stuff to prescribe.”
He added that just like there used to be people when he was a child, who would put razor blades in Halloween candy, there are people now, who can and do put drugs into candy.
“If people in our community think that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen, then they need to educate themselves because it does,” he added.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is closely related to THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana. The difference between the two substances is THC gives people an intoxicated feeling while CBD doesn’t.
Shortly after trick-or-treating ended Saturday about 7:30 p.m., Bird said that a “very credible” parent, who he declined to identify, was examining their child’s Halloween candy when they discovered a generic packaging containing a gummy bear.
“When they opened it, it contained a very strong smell of marijuana. If you know what marijuana smells like, there is no mistaking it,” Bird said. “The parent that called this in said that the only place their child had been trick-or-treating was in the city.”
Before the parent called the police they flushed the gummy down the toilet. “I wish they had not done that,” Bird added.
Bird said that he received a call a short time later from police dispatchers along with an almost simultaneous call from Mayor Roddy Harrison about the same incident.
After he got the information, Bird said that he and the mayor spoke for about 15 minutes about whether to put out some information about the incident before finally deciding that they needed to do so.
“It is one of those things. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t,” Bird said.
The initial police Facebook post stated that police had confirmed Saturday evening that “CBD” gummies had shown up in some candy bags, and it encouraged parents to check their children’s trick-or-treat candy carefully.
Bird said that after police put out their initial notice on Facebook, the Whitley County E-911 Center was flooded with phone calls from parents with questions about what the stuff was, what it looked like and so forth.
A short time after that, people started showing up at the police department with gummy bears in generic packaging, which Bird said threw up some red flags to him because of the way it was packaged.
“We don’t have the ability to field test every bit of candy that comes in here,” Bird noted.
Bird advised his officers to tell parents to error on the side of caution and throw out anything resembling a gummy, especially anything in the generic packaging that looked suspicious.
About 10 p.m., Williamsburg police put up a second Facebook post advising that three CDB gummies had been found, along with a different picture of a reported CDB gummy in its package.
“We put pictures out there trying to show what some of it could look like. I think it may not have been worded the best on our part,” Bird conceded.
About 10:30 p.m., a Williamsburg resident posted on her Facebook page that the gummies in the second picture on the police Facebook page were regular gummy bears that she had bought at Dollar Tree and had given out as trick-or-treat candies.
Shortly before midnight Saturday, the News Journal posted on a third update the story on its Facebook page noting that Bird confirmed that a couple of gummies brought to the police department that night had been determined not to have been CBD, but that the first gummy reported to the department was still believed to have been CBD.
The News Journal’s Facebook story was reached by over 11,000 people, and drew 91 comments ranging from people posting that CBD doesn’t smell like marijuana to others posting that if it smelled like marijuana it was a THC gummy.
Other posts were critical of Williamsburg police, including one that accused them of trying to start a panic.
In regards to people that say CBD doesn’t smell like marijuana, Bird said that while some of it may not, some of it certainly does.
“I have no reason to believe otherwise. I have every reason to believe the first incident did contain some type of CBD product. I am not going to say with 100 percent certainty that it was CBD but that is the first thing that came to mind with us,” Bird said.
Police also received some additional information Saturday, which was consistent with the first report, Bird added.