Lately, there have been several reports of illicit marijuana being laced with fentanyl, although these reports have been almost exclusively press releases or news reports. Police departments throughout the country have warned the public against fentanyl-laced weed leading to accidental overdose and death. But how frequently are these drugs combined, if at all? Or is marijuana laced with fentanyl a myth perpetuated by police departments?
What is Fentanyl & How Deadly is It?
Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid painkiller used to manage severe pain, such as breakthrough cancer pain. It’s also used for patients who are tolerant to other, less potent opioid medications.1
Fentanyl is about 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, which is why it’s the most common drug involved in overdose deaths in the United States. In 2017, nearly 60% of opioid-related overdose deaths were caused by fentanyl—an increase of nearly 45%.1
Frequently, dealers will cut their drugs with fentanyl to increase the potency and boost their profits. This can lead to accidental overdoses since many people who use illicit drugs don’t realize they’re taking fentanyl.1
What the Research Says About Fentanyl-Laced Marijuana
Police Reports Warn Against Dangers
There is a lot of conflicting information out there pertaining to whether fentanyl in marijuana is an actual concern or not. Most articles claim that fentanyl-tainted weed is a myth perpetuated by public health agencies, law enforcement, and the media, whereas law enforcement departments warn about the dangers of illicit cannabis (conversely, legal marijuana is safe since it is regulated.)
Case Studies Report Fentanyl-Tainted Cannabis
The truth is, fentanyl-laced marijuana on the streets is probably very rare, although it is possible. Some scholarly journals have reported instances of adverse effects caused by fentanyl in marijuana. One 2018 case study reported an incident of pulmonary hemorrhage or bleeding into the lungs in a 24-year-old man due to smoking marijuana that contained fentanyl.2
Another journal article reported a 50-year-old man in opioid addiction treatment who kept testing positive for fentanyl until he began buying his marijuana from a different source.3 This confounded researchers, who stated that there is no reliable data on the adulteration of cannabis. Much more research must be conducted to understand the scope of fentanyl-laced marijuana and its implications.
Drugs Frequently Cut with Fentanyl
Overall, the likelihood of smoking marijuana laced with fentanyl is extremely rare. However, there are many other drugs to be concerned about, especially if you regularly use illicit drugs.
Dealers often cut their illicit drugs with fentanyl because it’s cheaper and it’s also lighter, and easier to smuggle. Additionally, it has the potential to increase the potency and possibility of addiction. Here is a list of drugs that are frequently cut with fentanyl:
Dealers may press the fentanyl powder into pill form in order to mimic legal prescription drugs, such as Xanax, Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, and more.
Fentanyl Test Strips
If you use illicit drugs, you may want to buy fentanyl test strips, which you can order on Amazon. A fentanyl test strip is an affordable and quick way to test your drugs for the presence of fentanyl. It takes just a few minutes to get the results. Fentanyl test strips can help you make safe decisions regarding your substance use as well as aid in preventing an overdose.
Learn more about how Better Addiction Care can aid your recovery journey by calling 800-429-7690 today.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Fentanyl DrugFacts.
- A.M. Abdul Hameed, R. Golamari, Z. Khan, B. Iriarte-Oporto, A. Malik, N. Ghionni, J. Gooch, S. Gulati, A. Bhardwaj, and D. Valentino III. (2018). Reefer Madness: A Case of Diffuse Alveolar Hemorrhage Due to Fentanyl-Laced Marijuana. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 197.
- Hopwood, T., Dowd-Green, C., Mason, M., and Stewart, R.W. (2020). Unintentional use of fentanyl attributed to surreptitious cannabis adulteration. Science and Practice Case Report 60(6), 370-374.
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