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Weed-Laced Fentanyl: An Overview

In recent times, the emergence of weed laced with fentanyl has become a growing concern. Serenity Grove in Athens, Georgia, aims to shed light on this alarming trend, offering insights and support for those affected. This concise overview delves into the risks associated with this phenomenon and offers guidance on how to prevent it, aiming to raise awareness and protect communities from the dangers of this potent drug combination.


What is Fentanyl-Laced Weed?


Fentanyl-laced weed refers to marijuana contaminated with fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid. This dangerous mix is often created to enhance the immediate effects of marijuana or to increase profits by adding weight to the product. The combination of fentanyl and marijuana is particularly hazardous and often goes undetected, posing a significant risk of overdose and potentially fatal consequences. This risk is exacerbated for individuals without prior exposure to fentanyl, who lack tolerance to this powerful substance, making even small amounts extremely dangerous.


What is Fentanyl?


Fentanyl is an opioid many times more potent than heroin, prescribed for severe pain but also widely abused due to its high potency. It is utilized medically for pain relief post-surgery and in chronic pain management. On the streets, it often appears as a synthetic powder, disguised as pills, or dispensed through eye droppers and nasal sprays. With a potency 50 to 100 times greater than morphine, fentanyl is highly lethal. A mere two milligrams, akin to a grain of sand, can result in overdose and fatal outcomes if used without medical supervision. Presently, fentanyl is a major contributor to overdose fatalities across the US.


What is Weed?


Weed, or marijuana, is a commonly used recreational drug known for its psychoactive effects. While it has therapeutic uses, its illegal combination with fentanyl raises significant risks. Weed is a mix of dried Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant flowers, containing over 500 chemicals. The primary psychoactive compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), triggers the well-known addictive ‘high.’ Consumed in various forms such as smoking, vaping, brewing in teas, or eating with food, THC affects the brain by stimulating dopamine release in the pleasure centers, altering coordination, mood, cognitive functions, and perception of time. This interaction with the brain’s pleasure system can lead to marijuana addiction, with users potentially developing a dependency on the substance.


How to Tell if Weed is Laced with Fentanyl?


Identifying fentanyl-laced weed can be challenging, as there are no immediate visual cues. Awareness of symptoms and testing kits are crucial for detection. The most reliable method for detecting fentanyl in marijuana is through the use of fentanyl test strips. By dissolving a sample in water and applying the test strip, individuals can determine the presence of fentanyl. 


Although less reliable, other indicators of fentanyl-laced weed include its smell, appearance, and taste.

  • Pure marijuana typically has a grassy scent, but if laced, it might emit a sharp odor similar to gasoline or nail polish. 
  • Visually, fentanyl appears as blue or white crystals, contrasting the brown crystals of pure marijuana. 
  • Distinguishing the taste of laced weed from pure weed remains challenging due to the lack of research on fentanyl’s taste and its alteration when mixed. 


The difficulty in identifying laced weed is exacerbated when purchasing from illegal sources, given the absence of regulatory standards. With the increasing legalization and regulation of cannabis for medicinal use, the identification of laced products is expected to become more straightforward, ensuring safer consumption from legitimate outlets.


How Many People Die from Laced Weed?


The exact number of deaths from laced weed is difficult to pinpoint, but the increase in opioid-related overdoses highlights the escalating statistics. The danger of fentanyl-laced marijuana lies in its potency; even a minuscule amount of fentanyl can be fatal, particularly for those with no prior exposure. Users often remain unaware that their marijuana is contaminated with fentanyl, leading to severe or even deadly consequences. 


The risk of becoming addicted to marijuana increases when it is laced with fentanyl, due to the intensified and more appealing effects. One of the first alerts regarding this issue was issued by the Connecticut Department of Public Health in 2021, reporting 40 overdoses linked to fentanyl-laced weed within the state. Although these claims are pending confirmation, the incidence of fentanyl-laced marijuana being sold illegally and leading to an increase in overdoses is unmistakable.


Signs of Fentanyl Overdose


Users can typically discern within 15 to 20 minutes of consuming marijuana if it has been laced with fentanyl due to distinct immediate side effects that differ from those of pure weed. Symptoms indicative of a fentanyl overdose, and thus of laced weed, often include:


  • slowed heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • clammy skin
  • Extreme drowsiness (with the potential for the heart rate to decrease to a life-threatening level)


In cases where fentanyl overdose is suspected, it’s crucial to seek emergency medical assistance immediately to address these severe symptoms and prevent fatal outcomes.


Preventing Overdose on Fentanyl-Laced Weed


Educating yourself about the risks of fentanyl-laced marijuana and being cautious about its source is crucial to avoid accidental consumption of dangerous substances. To safeguard against potential overdose, consider these precautions: always use in the company of others, opt for legally obtained marijuana where possible (as legality often equates to safety), consider using a legal alternative to cannabis, and keep Narcan on hand—a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and potentially save a life.


Contact Us For Support


Many perceive marijuana as relatively safe due to the rare instances of overdose from its sole use. However, it’s critical to recognize that marijuana can be addictive with several detrimental long-term effects. Additionally, the risk of marijuana being secretly mixed with fentanyl or other dangerous substances is real, posing a grave threat to those that may consume the substance.


Serenity Grove is dedicated to providing support and treatment options for those struggling with substance abuse, including issues related to fentanyl-laced weed. Reach out to us for guidance and start your journey to recovery today.