Los Angeles Fearmongering Sheriff Lee Baca Stirs Prop 19 Cauldron

With Halloween just around the corner, eldritch tales of bone chilling terror abound. Oh noes! Razors in apples, Liquid-Plumr-laced chocolate, and the worst of all: DRUGS!

Within these stories lies a warning, an ancient morality fable: Nothing is free, and with greed comes a risk. There have only been two cases nationwide from 1958 to 1988 of children dying from eating tainted trick or treats, including one kid who was murdered by his own father with a strychnine-flavored Pixie Stix. Yet the stories continue because they prey upon our fears: Our spawn will be destroyed by (choose one or more):

  • Greed
  • Freedom
  • Outsiders/The Other ( i.e.: pagans, hippies, Commies, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, amoralists, immoralists, Republicans, Democrats, foreigners, who live down the block)
  • Well, just in time to scare people about Prop 19, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office issued a warning about medibles, medical marijuana in candy form. The Los Angeles Times reports:

    Investigators have confiscated candies and snacks containing pot from marijuana dispensaries, and they are concerned such items could wind up in children’s trick-or-treat bags, they said Friday in a statement.

    Local Los Angeles TV station KTLA–owned by the LA Times parent company Tribune–showed medibles which were clearly decorated with pot leaves and had names like “Kush Candy.”

    WTF!? At $10 to $20 a medible snack, who the heck is gonna be giving out those candies?

    Officials say pot treats, such as candy bars and lollipops are sold in marijuana dispensaries and could be circulating around. “These lollipops, candy bars, they look pretty legitimate. The problem is if it gets in the wrong hands and a kid licks a lollipop, they get ill or intoxicated,” said Cpt. Ralph Ornelas of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Some treats look like regular cookies or candy, but they don’t smell normal. Another clue, many of the products are not clearly labeled (my note: they aren’t very commercial looking compared to say Tootsie Pops or Snickers bars).

    Both stories did add that the Sheriff’s Department

    says it has never received a report of candy or snacks containing pot being distributed to Halloween trick-or-treaters.

    This is fear mongering at its finest. Oh how I wish Lee Baca was up for re-election. I would be leading the move to get him out of office!

    The warning comes days before Californians vote on Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure. Sheriff Lee Baca opposes the proposition and has said he will continue to arrest marijuana growers even if it is approved.

    Props to KTLA’s reporter who asked if opposition to Prop 19 had anything to do with the news alert. The on-camera deputy said the sheriff’s department was just concerned about public safety. Note that in this photo, courtesy of the LASD, along wth pot leaf logos, you can clearly see the word


    on the candy. I’d file this under pot-hating propaganda.

    Self-defeating propaganda photo courtesy of LASD

    Okay, Snow White’s stepmom handed her a poisoned apple, giving second marriages and witches a bad name, and there was one time on record that pot was passed out to trick or treaters. But that was an accident. Snopes.com reports:

    An odd act of randomness occurred in the town of Hercules, California (near San Francisco) in 2000. Some trick-or-treaters came home with little packets of marijuana done up to look like miniature Snickers bars…Police investigated and were satisfied the homeowner had no knowledge of the special contents of certain bars that were handed out that night.

    The marijuana packets dressed up to look like Snickers bars had landed in the Hercules dead letter office because whoever had tried to mail a package containing them either didn’t use enough postage or had listed an incorrect address…A postal employee (the mystified homeowner) brought the “candy” home to give out on Halloween, thinking the Snickers bars were, well, Snickers bars.

    Had pot been legal, this would never had happened. Maybe some news stories about the high rate of childhood diabetes and obesity would be more on the mark, or a feel good story about alternatives to candy, like pencils, disposable tattoos or maybe even used kids books bought in bulk from thrift shops?

    Side note: Since 1983 I have been doing an annual experiment. On the day before Halloween, I go to the market, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone. The set up varies, but the goal is the same, to see how awake people are. I always make sure to dress as square as possible and cover my tattoos. Glasses add an air of respectability and further the “normal” vibe. Thus costumed as a typical suburban mom and carrying a couple sacks of candy or a bag of apples, I’ll ask a clerk and/or a fellow shopper if they know what aisle the Drano is on. Then I’ll ask where the sewing needles can be found. If I’m with a friend, while standing near some people, I’ll matter of factly ask:

    I’ve got the candy, could you snag the Raid and some razor blades?

    Or I’ll buy a a couple of the above items along with bags of fun-sized chocolate bars–I mean you can always use single edge blades to cut out decoupage designs, and gods know buttons come loose and hems fall out…

    Granted, I’m not expecting the store manager to give me the third degree or be swarmed in the parking lot by the LAPD, but maybe a raised eyebrow, a gasp…Today I was at the airport purposefully holding my arriving guest’s name card inverted, and four people stopped to tell me it was upside down. You’d think–

    I may be a bit of a prankster, but what Lee Baca and the LAPD sheriff’s office did with that warning–which only served the sheriff’s own antediluvian agenda–was ridiculous and only furthers a myth which has been repeatedly debunked.

    29 Responses to "Los Angeles Fearmongering Sheriff Lee Baca Stirs Prop 19 Cauldron"
    mzchief | Saturday October 30, 2010 10:47 am 1

    Like the 1933 protagonist of Ask The Dust, Baca can’t tell the difference between diacetylmorphine (heroin) and THC (just one possible constituent of the cannabis plant depending upon which variety it is and its cultivation):

    “The City of Los Angeles arrested Latinos for marijuana possession at twice the rate of whites” [.. and] with ten percent of California’s population, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.

    (from “Marijuana Law Enforcement Disproportionately Targets Blacks, Latinos in California,” by Paul Armentano, Oct. 29, 2010)

    vagreen | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:09 pm 2

    You know, my father used to sit out with the neighbors on the front porch on Friday nights and drink iced tea with vodka. We should have kept alcohol illegal, because his iced tea could have fallen into the hands of some wee ones! Think Of The Children!

    newtonusr | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:13 pm 3

    I would love to be a fly on the wall during DiFi and Baca’s daily conference call to ‘Ramp-Up the Preposterous’.

    DiFi: ‘Lee, what have you got for me today?’
    Baca: ‘Let’s do dessert, Di.’

    PJEvans | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:16 pm 4

    You’d think that if this was a problem, it would be a problem all year round.

    Baca’s story stinks.

    tballou | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:26 pm 5

    NPR reported on this story this morning, and included a report that one or two people had been hospitalized from eating candy with marijuana. This would be a first if true.

    OldFatGuy | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:29 pm 6



    I’d bet good money on the premise there was never even a single example of this actually happening. If they have a “case,” then it’s because they set it up.

    Complete Bullshit.

    And it’s going to work. I don’t know how many votes it will lose Prop 19, but it will cost it significantly. It’s just the right little anecdote that gets people thinking, and lots of folks with kids will start thinking “I better vote No on 19. I DO NOT want to have to worry about this every Halloween.”

    Bang – Prop 19 is dead.


    hijean831 | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:32 pm 7

    This is a favor to his cohost DiFi, who is trying to outlaw such munchies. Now she can point to warnings from LAPD to support her boneheaded legislation.

    ghostof911 | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:38 pm 8
    In response to mzchief @ 1

    But where is the genius Baca going to put all his blacks and Latinos if the state assembly cuts prison funding and there is no space to pack them in?

    Any explanation why the CCPOA is publicly neutral on Prop 19? Doesn’t its passage guarantee layoffs for its rank and file?

    demi | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:38 pm 9

    I have just one question. Did Lee tell us the addresses where they are (purportedly) going to pass out free mj laced candy? ‘Cause, ya know, I could take a little drive tomorrow.

    RevBev | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:40 pm 10
    In response to OldFatGuy @ 6

    Don’t think folks will see the ruse? I remember when a fear of razor blades hit the trick r treaters. What crazies.

    Quite a shock to come to this piece from the Steward thread. Many things can happen; I do not want my life guided by irrational fear.
    I refuse.

    ghostof911 | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:43 pm 11
    In response to demi @ 9

    Half of L.A. will be following you.

    OhioGringo | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:45 pm 12

    “Marijuana…causes severe, irreparable, BRAIN DAMAGE!”
    –from the movie “Reefer Madness,” 1934??

    The more things change…

    OldFatGuy | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:47 pm 13
    In response to RevBev @ 10

    And good on you for that. I’m the same way. I not only am not scared by this, I’m pissed.

    This was no accident. This was planned. And it is exactly the right kind of story that gets repeated a lot of people. And on the weekend (Halloween weekend no less when lots of parents and kids are intermingling) to give it just the right time to spread well.

    And there will be parents that it affects. I don’t know just how significant it will be, but this will work. I don’t think it would be anything earthshattering, but from what I’ve heard it would only take a small change to change the results because this polling so close.

    Even our local governments work for the same PTB????

    demi | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:48 pm 14
    In response to ghostof911 @ 11

    Hee, hee, hee. Let’s see what happens on Tuesday. If it passes, given what fabulous Holder has said, there might be big ass long lines. Maybe. I dunno.

    jeffbarea | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:48 pm 15

    This is so cute. John Hampshire meets his first Scientology War barrage.

    I warned ye.

    Can you just believe me the first time next time?

    Scientology tech is required training for the LA County Sherriff’s Department including Narconon crap.


    Now you get to experience the levels of depravity that the Church of Scientology will go to to protect its money making enterprises. Pretty sure there might be some celebrity delivery services/perks that would be impacted should anyone be able to access freely legal things. N’ah mean?

    ghostof911 | Saturday October 30, 2010 05:57 pm 16
    In response to demi @ 14

    RevBev | Saturday October 30, 2010 06:02 pm 17
    In response to OldFatGuy @ 13

    Thanks…surely there has to be peace and sanity somewhere.

    Ive not yet heard any coverage of the rally in Austin. I hope it had a good turnout.

    Im outta here, I think. ;)

    ghostof911 | Saturday October 30, 2010 06:10 pm 18
    In response to OldFatGuy @ 13

    but this will work.

    Are you serious? Being from outside Cali, I find it hard to believe that a guy like Wyatt Earp Baca would have any crebility.

    ghostof911 | Saturday October 30, 2010 06:12 pm 19
    In response to ghostof911 @ 18


    PJEvans | Saturday October 30, 2010 06:13 pm 20
    In response to OldFatGuy @ 13

    The sheriff is missing some actual Halloween possibilities (besides being possibly corrupt and I think not too smart).
    I remember one year when I was a kid, someone was handing out dog biscuits…. probably less likely to harm a kid than pot-laced brownies (which apparently has happened), but a lot easier for someone to do without being noticed until much later.

    TheLurkingMod | Saturday October 30, 2010 06:18 pm 21

    nahant | Saturday October 30, 2010 06:21 pm 22
    In response to ghostof911 @ 16

    me to me to shit I want some of that good stuff..

    OldFatGuy | Saturday October 30, 2010 06:23 pm 23
    In response to ghostof911 @ 18

    Yeah, I think it will have an impact. Nothing huge like I said, but it’s going to change some votes IMO.

    I hope the weather in Cali on Tuesday is perfect and the GOTV effort targeting young people is effective. There’s probably a little wiggle room in there to overcome this if the youngsters turn out really well.

    I sometimes don’t get Cali. At times it seems it’s a liberal haven, the sanest state in the Union. Then the Prop H8 vote comes along. Then this. IIRC, this was polling like 10 points ahead a few months ago, although I admittedly might not be remembering correctly.

    Synoia | Saturday October 30, 2010 06:35 pm 24

    At $10 to $20 a medible snack, who the heck is gonna be giving out those candies?

    Ok, Ok, someone has to do it. I’ll volunteer to go a test all the medilbe candies before the kids pick them up. Sigh.

    It’ll be hard work, walking from house to house, taking these evil candies and disposing of them immediately by eating them. But we have to sacrifice to to keep the kids safe.

    What’s the neighborhood again, Sheriff? San Marino you said?

    rvingretiree | Saturday October 30, 2010 08:11 pm 25
    In response to OhioGringo @ 12

    The early 1970′s featured a major article in the NY Times claiming that marijuana might cause the “brain to atrophy”. What the article *never* mentioned was that it was well known that alcohol caused brain atrophy, without doubt …

    bayofarizona | Saturday October 30, 2010 09:55 pm 26

    and has said he will continue to arrest marijuana growers even if it is approved.

    WTF. He is going to arrest people even if it is legal? What powers is he claiming?

    OldFatGuy | Saturday October 30, 2010 10:52 pm 27
    In response to bayofarizona @ 26

    Even if Prop 19 passes and becomes the law of the land of the state of California, it will still remain against federal law to posess, transport, grow, sell, etc. the stuff.

    The FBI (and DEA) are tasked with enforcing such laws, and you would face federal sanctions rather than state. These are almost always worse sanctions than the states have because of the “controversy” over the years that led to Senators and Congressmen passing tougher and tougher minimum standards for violating federal law. If a prison is warrented, the offender would go to a federal prison instead of a state one.

    And recently Eric Holder publicly stated that he would have his DOJ enforce those laws in California, even for just possession. (The way it works in most states is the states prosecute a vast majority of marijuana crimes, almost all of the possession charges, while the feds (DEA) enforces the laws against trafficing, attempting to catch the “bigger fish.” But they always have had, and will continue to have, the authority to enforce the federal law against simple possession.

    Hope that answered your question. I might’ve misunderstood it totally and you already knew all of this. If so, sorry.

    kindGSL | Sunday October 31, 2010 01:57 am 28
    In response to OldFatGuy @ 6

    I disagree. I think people are going to recognize it for the fear mongering (terrorism) that it is.

    mzchief | Sunday October 31, 2010 01:31 pm 29
    In response to tballou @ 5

    NPR became a barely-veneered right wing operation during Shrubya. I’d say to this story, “Yeah, riiiiight.” Looks to me like more great material for Estaban Colberto.

    Sorry but the comments are closed on this post