NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn claims Mexican cartels are targeting children with drugs made to look like candy in a PSA with other members of the Senate GOP.
However, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in September that despite the prevalence of the drug known as “rainbow fentanyl” online and in communities across the U.S., the agency has not “seen any connection to Halloween.”
Officials with the DEA also say they have not heard of any reports of “rainbow fentanyl” being found in Tennessee.
In the PSA and the accompanying news release, Blackburn says, “The powerful drug cartels are coming after your kids, your neighbors, your students, your family members, and your friends. No one is sparred as fake pills laced with fentanyl are beginning to look like candy in an effort to lure young Americans.”
The DEA says the source of these pills is primarily two Mexican drug cartels and in August warned that the colors of these drugs are “used to target young Americans.”
But while Milgram said children as young as 12 are being impacted by fentanyl poisoning, she clarified that they are not seeing these pills in elementary school or in Halloween candy.
Professor Joel Best says that ever since trick-or-treating gained popularity in the U.S. after World War II, there have been warnings, concerns and rumors of dangerous substances and materials being slipped into candy meant for kids.
“There were stories of people heating pennies on skillets and dumping them into the hands of outstretched trick-or-treaters,” Best said.
Best started researching what he calls “Halloween sadism” in 1985 when he began wondering what the motivations were behind people tainting candy.
He said he has not found any evidence of widespread candy tampering and no reports of children being injured because of these tricks.
However, he said the rumors surrounding “rainbow fentanyl” have gained more traction with politicians than he has seen in the past like concerns over ecstasy tablets in the shape of gummy bears. He adds that, considering the high cost of the drug, these concerns don’t make sense to him.
“It’s hard to see what the business plan is, that you are going to give elementary school kids fentanyl and if you are lucky enough to not kill them they are going to become addicts and you’re going to get them to pay you their lunch money? How is this going to work?” he said.
So, while the concern over these pills is real, they are dangerous, and fentanyl has taken hundreds of teen lives with the potential to take more, it is unlikely to end up among other sweet treats this Halloween.