Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis Myths Debunked
July 15, 2022 08:00 am ET
Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Fentanyl pills are contributing to a rise in drug overdoses among American high schoolers despite a general decrease in drug use. Among the persistent drug use by high schoolers is cannabis, with around 37% having self-reported cannabis use. In light of both, let’s clear up some of the myths about fentanyl-laced cannabis.
Does My Cannabis Have Fentanyl?
WebMD explains that fentanyl-laced drugs, including fentanyl-laced cannabis, have been increasingly circulating in America’s illicit drug market. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is nearly impossible to notice without testing due to its lack of taste and odor. Additionally, the DEA explains that fentanyl is 80-100 times stronger than morphine, which is why the substance is especially dangerous when consumed unknowingly. According to WebMD, a 2-milligram dose of fentanyl is enough to cause a fatal overdose.
Anne Milgram, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), told CNN, “The amount of illegal fentanyl in our country has risen to an unprecedented level. This year alone, DEA has seen enough fentanyl to provide every member of the United States population with a lethal dose and we are still seizing more fentanyl each and every day.” In other words, fentanyl is out there and can show up on virtually any illicit drug.
While the likelihood of cannabis being laced with fentanyl is low, Turnbridge warns that there is still a risk of cross-contamination, especially if one is purchasing from the illicit market, an unreliable and unregulated source of cannabis. If drug dealers are handling cannabis in the same place or with the same material they used to handle fentanyl, there is a risk of that cannabis becoming contaminated.
Madeline Hilliard, CEO of Trojan Awareness Combatting Overdose (TACO), affirms the above scenario by telling USC Annenberg Media that “marijuana is being divided up for packaging and selling on the same table that fentanyl was previously being packaged on and the table, or the surface that all that was happening on, was not adequately sanitized.”
Myth 1: Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis Is Causing Widespread Fatalities
While fentanyl is contributing to a rise in widespread fatalities, “there is no scientific data that would validate the assumption thus far,” explains Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, the chief medical officer at American Addiction Centers. Weinstein adds that “overdoses overall are on the rise, and not only opiate overdoses are high in 2021, but also methamphetamine and cocaine overdoses are on the rise. Fentanyl is, unfortunately, a big part of this.” While fentanyl itself is causing an alarming number of fatalities, fentanyl-laced cannabis is actually not a significant part of this.
Myth 2: Drug Dealers Lace Cannabis With Fentanyl to Cause Dependency
According to Ontario Harm Reduction Network (OHRN), there have been no laboratory-confirmed cases of fentanyl-laced cannabis. As stated on WebMD, “the rumor that drug dealers lace weed with fentanyl to cause clients to develop drug addiction is not substantiated, or financially sound,” as OHRN states that “fentanyl has a high-profit margin, whereas marijuana has a low-profit margin. In other words, lacing marijuana with fentanyl wouldn’t make financial sense.” Additionally, Weinstein explains, “The idea they would enhance dependency does not hold water because of the lethality of [fentanyl]. That’s truly a myth.”
Myth 3: Testing Positive for Both Fentanyl and Cannabis Means You Consumed Laced Cannabis
Weinstein states, “It is more likely that that person also may test positive for other substances for fentanyl. [Fentanyl] is much more prevalent to be used in cutting opioids. It doesn’t mean that other substances cannot be laced with fentanyl, but based on frequency and likelihood, it is most likely other substances that one would need to be tested for.” OHRN explains that residue from a bag or surface can likely lead to cross-contamination and that testing positive for both does not automatically mean you have consumed fentanyl-laced weed.
What Does This All Mean for Cannabis Consumers?
Despite these debunked myths, fear of hidden fentanyl in cannabis is still very warranted. The best thing cannabis consumers can do to keep themselves safe from fentanyl-laced cannabis is to buy their goods legally. While legal cannabis is regulated and tested to ensure its safety, illicit cannabis is definitely not. If you want to be extra cautious, consider asking your dispensary for a certificate of analysis for your product; these reports document the third-party testing and compound content of a product.
Fentanyl-laced drugs are a serious issue and one that has warranted creating awareness about the potential of laced or cross-contaminated cannabis. As long as you’re purchasing your cannabis legally, there is nothing to worry about. If you live in a medical-only state and believe you qualify for medical cannabis, make an appointment with a licensed MMJ doctor to gain access to safe, medical-grade cannabis products.
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