ATLANTA -- Candy flavored like marijuana would be outlawed under a bill proposed in the Georgia Senate, reported the Associated Press.
The effort, spearheaded by State Senator Vincent Fort (D), is one of several throughout the nation targeting candies marketed with drug-inspired names such as Purple Haze and advertised with slogans such as, Every Lick is Like Taking a Hit.
Marketers call the treats a harmless novelty. But anti-drug advocates say they glorify drug use and encourage children to smoke pot.
Should a nine year old be able to go into a store and get a bag of chips, a soda pop and some dope candy? said Fort, who announced his bill last week in the parking lot of an Atlanta convenience store where he said he bought the candy the day before. That's ridiculous.
Fort's bill, which was co-signed by several other Democrats and at least one Republican in Georgia's GOP-controlled Senate, bans the sale of any marijuana or hemp-flavored candy in the state and calls for a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for the second offense.
Companies that sell the candies say the lollipops, gum drops and other treats are geared toward adults and that they advise retailers to sell the candy only to people 18 and older. They say the candies are flavored with legal hemp oil, which gives them the oily, grassy taste of marijuana.
It has the flavor and essence, without any of the pharmacological ingredients, Tony Sosa, whose Atlanta-based Hydro Blunts company sells the candies, said in June.
Some hemp advocates disagree with Sosa, claiming the candy is made with oil from the cannabis plant's flowers that may be illegal.
The website for Corona, Calif.-based Chronic Candy acknowledges using hemp essential oil in its products, but maintains that the oil is legal.
Neither the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) nor the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reported testing the candies. Critics say that, regardless of its content, the candy makes using drugs seem more attractive to children who may not have tried marijuana themselves. The Chronic Candy website features photographs of celebrities, from rapper Snoop Dogg to actor Verne Troyer, eating the candy or wearing clothing advertising the company. They not only sell the candy, said community activist and former Atlanta Councilman Derrick Boazman. They sell a drug-induced lifestyle.
An employee inside the c-store where Fort made his statement said the shop stopped selling the lollipops in the past few days.
The City of Chicago, as well as Suffolk County, N.Y., are among the local governments that already have banned the candies. Lawmakers in several states, including Texas, Michigan, New Jersey and New York, are considering banning or controlling their sale.
Fort said the committee considering his bill is scheduled to hold a public hearing on it this week.