Fake News? Fentanyl Laced Cannabis Stories Shared, Yet No Actual Cases Have Been Reported
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, Hamilton County’s coroner, said that marijuana, like any drug, could be a threat.
Here’s what you should know:
Social media posts saying fentanyl is in marijuana have ballooned over the past several weeks.
Nonetheless, no authorities reached by The Enquirer could confirm this is the case.
“In regard to marijuana, I’m not familiar with that,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Melvin Patterson said. He’d heard of no cases of fentanyl in marijuana. “There could be,” he said.
Lt. Tom Fallon, a Hamilton County Heroin Coalition investigator, said he checked with the county’s narcotics officers and found that so far, no fentanyl/marijuana combination has been spotted in street drugs they’ve seized.
Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan, a law enforcement spokesman for the heroin coalition, said he has seen posts on social media about it. He’s had a parent come tell him of a case of marijuana laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl. But so far, he has had no information confirming these reports.
The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office has not reported any deaths attributed to fentanyl-laced marijuana.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office has had zero such cases of overdose, as of Monday.
None of the suspicion is off the mark, however, Portman and Sammarco agreed. “We can’t tell you for sure until we test the blood of somebody who’s died. So, just count on it being there, and just don’t use it,” Sammarco said.
Hamilton County was among the first counties in the nation to spot the deadly elephant synthetic opiate carfentanil in the heroin stream, in July 2016. What followed was a barrage of overdoses in August, September and October. Some people died with carfentanil in their blood. Some hospital emergency department doctors said they were sure that carfentanil had hit people who’d overdosed and survived.
Portman on Monday continued to emphasize a need to increase the availability of naloxone, the non-narcotic that can restore breathing, preventing death in those who’ve overdosed from heroin or other opioids.
He pushed his bill that would require better tracking of U.S. Postal Service packagescoming into the country from overseas. Most fentanyl is coming from China. Some is purchased online. Some is sent by mail and picked up by drug dealers. A Norwood couple is accused of using the dark web to do just that and faced a federal court hearing last week.
Fentanyl has been spotted in cocaine-related overdose deaths and in the sales stream in the Hamilton County area.
“We are in a better position than we ever have been to find new trends with all the data collection and sharing of information with all of our partners we do now that we hopefully would spot a new trend like that … hopefully sooner than later,” said Synan, the Newtown police chief. If so, he said, the coalition would “get that information out.”
“I think we have learned with the introduction of carfentanil that when it comes to drugs,” he said, “you never say never.”