Fentanyl overdoses and accidental fentanyl exposure incidents seem to be appearing in news headlines more than ever. Public awareness about opioid addiction and the dangers of fentanyl is rising, which is certainly a positive. But sadly, the fentanyl crisis is showing no signs of subsiding anytime soon. One of the biggest concerns among the public now is fentanyl in marijuana and other drugs where it isn’t expected to be found. 

This article examines the alarming trend of fentanyl-laced marijuana and other drugs and provides practical advice to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Where Does Fentanyl Come From?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which was originally developed for severe pain. It is most commonly used following severe injury, major surgery, or palliative care, e.g. advanced stage cancer. Fentanyl is much older than most people realize. It first appeared for medical use in the 1960s. 

Fentanyl comes in several forms. Legal forms of fentanyl include lollipop-like lozenges (Actiq), effervescent buccal tablets (Fentora), sublingual sprays (Subsys), transdermal patches (Duragesic) and injectable liquid formulations. Illegal fentanyl is most often produced in powder form, which can then be blended into other drugs like heroin or cocaine or added to counterfeit prescription drug tablets. 

Most illegal fentanyl in the U.S. is produced by organized crime and drug cartels using precursor chemicals purchased from Asia and smuggled into the U.S., Mexico or Central America, where they are turned into fentanyl. 

Illegal Fentanyl is:

  • Mostly manufactured by organized crime/cartels.
  • Made using precursor chemicals smuggled into the country.
  • Not made with any strict quality controls.
  • NEVER safe to use in any form or amount. 

Is There Really Fentanyl in Marijuana and Other Street Drugs Now?

marijuana leaves - fentanyl in marijuana concept

Yes, unfortunately, fentanyl-laced weed has been found in DEA drug seizures along with many other drugs that people might not expect to find fentanyl in. Illegal drug manufacturers have found that adding fentanyl is a cheap and easy way to increase the perceived potency of any drug. Mixing fentanyl and crystal meth into a tablet, for example, is far less expensive than actually manufacturing pure Molly (MDMA). The unfortunate result is that fentanyl is showing up in all sorts of unexpected places and it’s leading to more fatal overdoses. 

Drugs which may be laced with fentanyl include:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Crystal Meth
  • Molly (MDMA/Ecstasy)
  • Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

How Can I Tell if A Drug Has Fentanyl in it?

Fentanyl has become so widespread that it is now difficult for anyone who uses illegal drugs to avoid it. So it’s not surprising that people would ask if there is a way to detect fentanyl in marijuana or any other drug. There are fentanyl test strips that you can get from some addiction advocacy groups or your state’s department of health. 

These work similarly to a home urinalysis kit, except the drug must be mixed with water to create a solution to dip the paper in. The problem is that these tests aren’t 100% foolproof and fentanyl-laced marijuana would be especially difficult, if not impossible to test in this way. 

The other serious shortfall of fentanyl test strips is that they cannot detect the presence of carfentanil, which is an even more potent variation that is increasingly seen in illegal drugs. The safest route of course is to simply not use illegal drugs, but if someone you know is continuing to use in spite of the danger, having several doses of NARCAN with you could save a life.

But, Why Would Anyone Make Fentanyl-Laced Marijuana?

We can only speculate about the reasons for criminals making fentanyl-laced weed. But it is likely happening for the same reasons they add fentanyl to heroin, cocaine, Molly (MDMA) and counterfeit painkiller tablets. Fentanyl is very inexpensive for criminal enterprises to manufacture. 

It only takes 2-3 milligrams of pure fentanyl to trigger a fatal overdose in someone without any opioid tolerance. That is an amount about half the size of a grain of rice. Because of fentanyl’s extreme potency and the fact that it can be synthesized from technically legal precursor chemicals, organized criminal enterprises have dramatically increased their production and use of this drug. 

Adding fentanyl to any other drug is a cheap and easy way to increase it’s perceived potency. Commercial-grade marijuana that would be relatively low value could be sold for more when fentanyl is added. This could also lead to users inadvertently becoming opioid-dependent, which ensures repeat business for drug dealers and cartels. 

Innovo Detox is The First Stop in Your Recovery Journey

Innovo Detox is committed to the success of every person we have the privilege of treating. Together, we will develop a treatment and recovery plan that best suits your needs. 

If you have any questions about fentanyl, fentanyl-laced marijuana or getting treatment for a substance use disorder–Innovo Detox is here to help. One call to our confidential detox hotline is all it takes to get answers. You can reach us anytime at (717) 971-4566