MIKE PRESCA, host:
That was the sex, onto the drugs.
Kids have long been told don't eat any candy, you'll ruin your appetite. Now it's more like, you'll throw your life away. Take the popular brand called Chronic Candy. It looks like regular green and purple lollipop or gummy worm, but Chronic Candy tastes like marijuana. Some parents in Georgia are not pleased.
From Atlanta, NPR's Kathy Lohr reports.
KATHY LOHR: When you go to the Chronic Candy Web site, a large green and yellow marijuana leaf appears on the screen along with a disclaimer, and this rap tune by 50 Cent.
(Soundbite of Candy Shop)
50 CENTS (Singer): (Singing) Oh, so seductive. I take you to the candy shop. I'll let you lick the lollipop. Go 'head girl, don't you stop…
LOHR: Among Chronic Candy slogans: Every lick is like taking a hit. Stars such as Snoop Dog and Paris Hilton have endorsed the product and it started to show up everywhere, in convenience stores and gas stations. New York, Chicago, and other cities have banned it or passed resolutions condemning its sale. Georgia is among the states that have taken the lead in trying to get a statewide ban.
George Crawford is with the Coalition Against Chronic Candy.
Mr. GEORGE CRAWFORD (Coalition Against Chronic Candy): This candy basically tells young people that marijuana is fun and safe. It is a gateway product. It promotes marijuana use among our young people and that's a problem."
LOHR: When Crawford's group first saw the lollipops in stores, members asked merchants to stop selling them voluntarily. They picketed places, which refused to drop the candy. Now, Crawford says those who still sell it are more secretive and harder to find. Some keep it hidden under the counter to avoid attracting attention.
Mr. CRAWFORD: For example, what the merchant will do, he'll reach into a box, he'll pull out a piece of candy but he'll cover his hand, and he'll slowly reach it to you like it's such a bad thing. And that's how he'll give you the candy. So if you have to go through all of that, what's going on with the candy?
LOHR: There is no THC in Chronic Candy, the chemical that produces the high in people who smoke marijuana. The president of Chronic Candy, based in Corona, California, did not return phone calls. The Website says the candy is adult-oriented, not meant for anyone under 18.
A montage of video clips pokes fun at news stories and even late night talks shows that have mentioned the controversial product.
(Soundbite of media clips)
Unidentified Woman: Critics say the candy promotes marijuana use, marijuana use.
Unidentified Man: Hmm-Hmm.
Unidentified Woman: New York lawmakers want it taken off the market, but the Southern California based candy maker says the negative buzz is unwarranted.
SNOOP DOG (Rapper): I gave you some. Did you try it? It's called Chronic Candy.
Mr. CONAN O'BRIEN (TV Host): Yeah. You sent this candy over. It's called Chronic Candy.
SNOOP DOG: Yes.
Mr. O'BRIEN: And I…
SNOOP DOG: Actually, I had some before I came out here.
(Soundbite of laughter)
LOHR: The drug connotation associated with the candy is what prompted Rockmart, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta, to ban the candy.
Chief LARRY HARRIS (Rockmart, Georgia Police Department): It was representing, I think, to the kids that it was marijuana.
LOHR: Rockmart Police Chief, Larry Harris.
Chief HARRIS: And we were afraid, you know, they'd think the candy was marijuana; well, maybe we really need to try the marijuana. We want to make sure they don't. So we're going to try to make sure we take everything and see any kind of temptation to them out of their face, if we can.
LOHR: Rockmart's law bans any kind of marijuana-flavored candy and drug paraphernalia. Michigan, Illinois, and New Jersey are other places where a statewide ban has been considered. Georgia Senator Vincent Fort says he'll introduce another bill in January to ban the candy. This year's effort never made it out of committee, but now that more people know about Chronic Candy, activists here say they believe the legislature is ready to pass a law against it.
Kathy Lohr, NPR News, Atlanta.
PRESCA: NPR's DAY To DAY continues.
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