It appears the deadly synthetic opiate fentanyl is now being mixed with marijuana in some Ohio communities – sparking some concern that this dangerous trend could soon spread across more of the United States.
What started out as a rumor last week on social media networks has been confirmed as gospel. Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said during a recent press conference with Senator Rob Portman that she has seen some cases in which fentanyl, a hardcore painkiller with a potency up to 100 times greater than morphine, has been mixed with marijuana.
“We have seen fentanyl mixed with cocaine, we have also seen fentanyl mixed with marijuana,” Sammarco said.
So far, this year, Sammarco has documented nearly 300 deaths brought on by opioid overdoses. However, she could not confirm how many of those cases involved marijuana laced with a synthetic opioid. But she warms that even the possibility of this deadly combination should be enough to give pause to people who frequent the black market.
“Essentially, the message we’ve tried to get out there, is if you are using any form of street drugs, count on them having some form of synthetic opioid mixed in,” she said, according to NBC affiliate WLWT-TV.
It is more than likely that cases where fentanyl is being found in marijuana is more of a novelty-type situation and not something that is being done on a regular basis. Drug dealers often use fentanyl to cut other powdered drugs because it is cheap and extremely powerful. But there would be absolutely no financial benefit for a dealer who uses synthetic opioids to cut marijuana – that is unless the enhancement, much like those cases where pot is mixed with other drugs, like cocaine, heroin or even formaldehyde (embalming fluid), comes at the request of the user.
Even the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration does not have any evidence that this dangerous phenomenon is on the verge of becoming a national trend.
“In regard to marijuana, I’m not familiar with that,” DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson told the Cincinnati Enquirer. But he admitted, “there could be” some cases in which this mixture could occur.
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The only possible way to ensure that marijuana is not being tampered with in such a way that makes it harmful to the user is for lawmakers to step up and allow the herb to be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.
Ohio is working to launch a medical marijuana program, but the system will do very little to chisel away at the strength of the black market. The next logical step would be to legalize the leaf for recreational use, providing all adult users 21 and over with safe access.