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Is this the first real case of fentanyl-contaminated marijuana in the US?

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America’s opioid crisis, which now kills 100,000 people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also threatens marijuana legalization.

Along with verified cases of cocaine and methamphetamine laced With synthetic opioids, severe panic stories of marijuana contaminated with fentanyl It’s been around for years.

It is mostly spread by law enforcement and unscrupulous fanatics who hate cannabis, including anti-legislative lobbyists and For-profit recovery clinicsUseful reasons to beware of cannabis, as reasons to delay legalization, as reasons for fear and doubt – these stories It always turned out to be baseless and untrue: honest mistake, deceitful plant, whatever. Imaginary!

All of this may now eventually change. On November 15, authorities in Connecticut mentioned What they believe could be the first documented case of cannabis contaminated with fentanyl.

But, as a government crime lab official as well as drug policy experts said, exactly what happened and what all of this means is far from clear. Given that this is the first case that authorities believe is documented — among the many rumored cases and billions of dollars of legal cannabis smoked each year — it’s still statistically almost certain that the US cannabis supply is not contaminated with opioids.

According to the November 15 bulletin of New England HedaBetween July 2021 and October 26, public health authorities reported 39 cases of patients who “showed symptoms of an opioid overdose” who needed to take doses of naloxone, the drug that reverses the overdose, but who also denied using opioids “and claimed they only smoked marijuana.” “

Several of these cases occurred in early October in Plymouth, Connecticut, where police sent several grams of cannabis from an individual who had overdosed to the state crime lab for analysis – where he tested positive for fentanyl. (Not for nothing, Connecticut certified Cannabis for adults age 21 and over in July, although currently legal sales are for medicinal purposes only, with sales for adult use Started As soon as early next year.)

“This is the first laboratory-confirmed case of marijuana with fentanyl in Connecticut and possibly the first confirmed case in the United States,” the bulletin stated.

But in terms of how fentanyl got there – did the user sprinkle a few chips on their lawn? Did he think he was using cocaine or something else contaminated with marijuana? Did I mess up the lab? – Still unknown, HIDTA drug intelligence officer Robert Lawlor said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“We have some of these same questions,” he said, noting that the Connecticut crime lab contacted other labs with more sophisticated equipment to see if they could determine other facts of the case, such as the exact isotope of the detected fentanyl.

What’s also unclear is whether this is an oddity, a one-time event, or part of a (albeit limited) pattern. It is also unclear whether the person in question also ingested fentanyl and then contaminated his own cannabis.

“From a commercial point of view, it doesn’t make sense to put fentanyl on marijuana,” he added. “So, why is this happening? What is the purpose of putting it in marijuana? These are some of the questions that remain.”

Lawlor stressed that the one thing HIDTA doesn’t do is tell everyone who smokes cannabis to look for fentanyl. He said the purpose of the November 15 post was merely to report that at present the ancient legend might have real legs.

“Marijuana and fentanyl have been kind of an urban legend for a few years now,” he added. “Trying to determine if it is something real or just an urban legend is important to public safety and public health.”

Police in Plymouth did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday seeking more details about the case in question.

This will not satisfy skeptics, who note that the mechanisms of smoking marijuana mean that taking fentanyl with it is practically impossible. Fentanyl burns at a lower temperature than cannabis. Thus, any flame hot enough to combust plant matter should destroy fentanyl.

Furthermore, there is no indication yet that individuals who have noticed an overdose and who have claimed to have used only marijuana are telling the whole truth.

Did they take a dose of fentanyl or what they thought was heroin – and then smoke weed? Could. Did they deal with fentanyl and then deal with weeds? Certainly, it is possible.

For all these reasons, drug policy experts contacted for comment also cautioned that too little is known to draw any conclusions, but that the case is at least worth pursuing.

He said, “Reports like this have come in before, but this is the first time I’ve heard of clusters of such incidents.” Dr.. Joseph PalamarD., a physician and researcher at New York University Langone Health, where he is an associate professor specializing in substance abuse.

“Reckless or inadvertent mixing of medications can occur,” he said. “And all we need is for one idiot to think it’s okay to mix fentanyl into marijuana and we can get a bunch of overdoses.”

“Even if the marijuana samples collected from the scene actually tested positive for fentanyl, this is only one step in indicating that it was in fact polluted With fentanyl.” “I say this because some people take drugs intentionally Mix fentanyl with their medicinal product. More information is needed. “

As with cocaine and methamphetamine contaminated with fentanyl, there are myriad explanations for how and why this happened, ranging from outrageous to extremely stupid.

There are still indications of a bunch of fentanyl-tainted pots out there, not to mention that this is something weed smokers need to start worrying about.

“As with cocaine and methamphetamine, the proportion of all cannabis with fentanyl in him/her is definitely low for now at least,” he said. Keith Humphreys said, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. “If it was high, we would have thousands of cases like this instead of dozens.”

Anyway, Humphreys added, even if this is a case of real marijuana contaminated with fentanyl, this is an argument in favor of marijuana legalization and safe cannabis provision, not against it.

“I hope the state will drain the source of these overdoses and respond accordingly,” he said.


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