Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, is killing Americans at an alarming rate. A recent New York Times report claims that there has been a 540 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths in the U.S. in the last three years.
But recent headlines suggesting that Americans are dying from marijuana laced with the deadly opiate are, well, fake news. Snopes, the self-described “internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation,” took a deep dive into the controversy and gave it a “false” rating.
The journalistic deception picked up a full head of steam back in June when Ohio Sen Rob Portman, a one-time marijuana smoker who transformed into reefer madness acolyte, and Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco held a press conference designed to scare the bejesus out of us cannabis consumers. “We have also seen fentanyl mixed with marijuana,” Sammarco claimed.
Following scare headlines and smug quotes from drug warriors, officials were forced to walk back the dramatic but untrue stories.
“We in Cincinnati have not, in fact, seen fentanyl-laced marijuana,” said Andrea Hatton, an administrator with the Hamilton County Coroner’s office. “There are no reported cases of it.” Not one county coroners in Ohio reported a single instance of a death caused by fentanyl-spiked weed.
Another example of journalistic malpractice occurred in August when a London, Ontario, story went viral. Public health officials bamboozled Canadians with a fiction about tainted weed. Again a correction was needed:
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that fentanyl had been discovered in marijuana and other drugs in London, Ont.; in fact, the opioid was found in urine samples of people who said they used pot and heroin. This version has been updated for clarity.
UPDATE: Health Canada has confirmed it tested samples of marijuana suspected of containing fentanyl and concluded they were all free of the opioid.
Snopes concluded its report:
To be clear, fentanyl is an extremely potent and dangerous drug whose presence is increasing in many areas in the United States and unequivocally caused numerous overdose deaths. However, as no incident has actually confirmed the presence of marijuana laced specifically with fentanyl, we rank the claim that such a mixture is a real and increasing danger as false.