It might have begun as a fluke, a scare tactic, and eventually spiraled out of control and frightened the nation into thinking they might die a horrible death from smoking weed.
Right before the world got hammered with a pandemic that infected millions of people, put even more out of work, and led to months of lockdowns that convinced the population that life was never going to be the same; there was allegedly another savage scourge showing up all over the United States threatening to kill drug users: fentanyl-laced marijuana.
As early as 2017, reports began to surface, suggesting that black market drug dealers were selling cannabis mixed with the dangerous opioid. Law enforcement and even the White House warned this bizarre mixture could potentially kill thousands of Americans. Yet, those reports are now virtually non-existent.
It all began with some local yokels out of Ohio claiming that they “have seen fentanyl mixed with marijuana.” Even though a DEA spokesman said at the time that he wasn’t familiar with any cases of pot being mixed with the synthetic opioid, he told the press that “there could be some.”
What the DEA failed to mention, however, was that those potential cases would likely only entail marijuana users purposely combining pot with fentanyl to produce a unique high. Pot users have been known to mix weed with various chemicals (even embalming fluid) to enhance their buzzes. But it is doubtful that marijuana was ever being laced with weed in the black market. It just doesn’t make financial sense in any capacity to do so. But considering the huge body count that had been reported over the years from fentanyl-related overdoses, people freaked out.
By spring of 2018, even the federal government bought into the madness. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told a group of young people at the White House that marijuana was being laced with fentanyl. Later, NIDA director Nora Volkow backed up this claim, saying, “Fentanyl is being used to lace a wide variety of drugs, including marijuana.” In 2019, Kellyanne Conway, who served as the Trump Administration’s czar on the opioid epidemic, revealed that people were “unwittingly” ingesting marijuana laced with fentanyl. “It’s laced into heroin, marijuana, meth, cocaine, and it’s also just being distributed by itself,” she said.
But none of those claims appear to be true. There is no doubt that the opioid crisis was and still is a national killing machine — taking out around 70,000 people every year. But a DEA chemist eventually came forward to say that if there was a problem with fentanyl-laced pot, the death toll would be much more devastating. Presumably, more casualties than the COVID debacle.
Nevertheless, law enforcement kept coming out from time to time to report fentanyl-laced weed in their neck of the woods. Police in parts of New York were perhaps the most vocal about the alleged scourge. “With fentanyl-laced marijuana now confirmed to be in New York state, I am extremely concerned for the safety of anyone using marijuana,” Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol told the Oneida Daily Dispatch. Still, there hasn’t been a single report of fentanyl-laced marijuana since 2019.
So, where did it go? Did all the black-market drug dealers suddenly muster some scruples and decide to jettison all underhanded practices that involved selling weed dosed with deadly opioids? Probably not. It’s more plausible that the shoddy details of marijuana-laced fentanyl just got its 15-minutes of fame.
But now it is played out, just like every other piece of fake news that floats to the surface. It might have begun as a fluke, a scare tactic, and eventually spiraled out of control and frightened the nation into thinking they might die a horrible death from smoking weed. In reality, we would hear a lot more about these mishaps if they were actually happening — even if only occasionally. No, while some folks may have experimented with fentanyl-laced pot over the years, it doesn’t seem to be a trend worthy of 2021.
The Fresh Toast is a daily lifestyle platform with a side of cannabis. For more information, visit www.thefreshtoast.com.