Fentanyl Laced Weed : An Overview

By
Chavi Weinstock
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Jefferey A. Berman MD, DFASAM
Last Updated
May 23, 2023

Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

Table of Contents
  1. What is Fentanyl laced weed?
  2. What is Fentanyl?
  3. What is weed?
  4. How to tell if weed is laced with Fentanyl?
  5. How many people die from laced weed?
  6. Signs of Fentanyl overdose
  7. Preventing overdose on Fentanyl-laced weed
  8. Conclusion

What is Fentanyl laced weed?

Fentanyl laced weed is a term used for marijuana that has been mixed or ‘laced’ with some fentanyl. People want to know why drugs are laced with fentanyl. The answer is that this is commonly done to heighten the short-term pleasures that are felt after ingesting marijuana, or in order to profit more from the amount of marijuana sold, when it is sold by the weight.

Fentanyl and marijuana together are a potent and even deadly combination, especially since many people who consume fentanyl laced marijuana have never been exposed to fentanyl before and so have not developed any sort of tolerance to it.

Street dealer exchanging drugs like fentanyl laced weed with client.

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What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent opioid that is used medically to relieve pain in patients, particularly after surgery, and also to manage chronic pain. What does fentanyl look like? Illegal fentanyl is usually produced as a synthetic powder, and sold as a powder, a regular looking pill or in eye droppers and nasal sprays. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and therefore more deadly. Even two milligrams of fentanyl, equivalent to a grain of sand, obtained without a prescription can cause an overdose and death. Fentanyl is currently a leading cause of overdose deaths in the US.

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What is Weed?

Marijuana (or ‘weed’, as it is known on the street), is a greenish-gray mixture of dried flowers from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. There are over 500 chemicals present in marijuana but the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol chemical, otherwise known as THC, is what causes the addictive ‘high’ feeling. Marijuana is often brewed in teas, eaten with foods, smoked and even vaped.

THC is the chemical responsible for causing psychotropic effects, distorting the brain of the consumer. This is because it stimulates the part of the brain that responds to pleasure by releasing dopamine, affecting a person’s coordination, happiness, thoughts, memory, and perception of time. As a result, marijuana is addictive and one can become dependent on it.

Weed like this can sometimes be laced with fentanyl. Avenues Recovery can help you recover.

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How to tell if weed is laced with fentanyl?

The most accurate way to test weed for fentanyl, is by using a test strip. Dissolve the substance in water and place the strip inside. The results will show whether or not the substance has fentanyl within it. Read our online resource to find out where to buy fentanyl test strips.

Other ways to know whether or not your weed is laced, are by smelling it or looking closely at it for the common signs:

  • What does laced weed smell like?
    Pure marijuana usually smells like grass or leaves, whereas if it is laced, it may have a strong distinct smell of gas, paint, or nail polish.
  • What does fentanyl-laced weed look like?
    Fentanyl on weed looks like blue or white crystals, against the brown crystal look of pure marijuana.
  • What does fentanyl-laced weed taste like?
    Unfortunately, there is no proven research on the taste or smell of fentanyl, especially as the taste changes completely when it is mixed with different substances. The taste of laced weed is not distinguishable from pure weed.

It is difficult to know whether or not weed has been laced with other substances when it is purchased illicitly, as there are no legal guidelines. As cannabis is becoming more widely legalized for medicinal purposes, it will become more regulated and it will be easier to know the quality of weed and if it has been laced with other drugs, when purchased from a legitimate source.

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How many people die from laced weed?

The problem with fentanyl-laced marijuana is that for people who have never been exposed, the lethal dose of fentanyl can be tiny. Consumers usually don’t know when their weed is laced with fentanyl, causing catastrophic effects. Additionally, there is a higher risk of addiction to marijuana when it is laced with fentanyl since the effects are potentially stronger and more pleasurable.

A person struggling with addiction. Fentanyl laced weed can exacerbate such addictions.

The first warning on the danger of fentanyl-laced weed came from Connecticut in 2021, where the Department of Public Health declared that fentanyl-laced weed caused 40 overdoses in the state in that year. Whereas this statement has yet to be confirmed, there has definitely been an uptick in illegally sold fentanyl-laced weed, causing a rise in overdose cases.

Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

Within 15 to 20 minutes after consuming weed, the user will feel whether or not it has been laced because the immediate side effects feel different than pure weed.

Overdose from fentanyl (and therefore the symptoms of laced weed) typically include:

  • a slowed heartbeat
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • wet and clammy skin, and
  • severe drowsiness

Eventually, one’s heartbeat can slow so much that it stops altogether. If it appears as though someone has overdosed on fentanyl, it is vital to get them to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Preventing Overdose on Fentanyl-Laced Weed

It is important to educate yourself on the dangers of laced marijuana and remain vigilant when obtaining it so that you can protect yourself from unknowingly consuming deadly fentanyl.

Here are a few safety strategies to implement if you have concerns about overdose:

  • Never use alone.
  • Find a legal way to obtain marijuana. Marijuana is legal in some states and traveling to obtain it legally is a good way to ensure its safety.
  • Replace cannabis use with a legal drug.
  • Have Narcan available whenever using. It’s a medication used to treat opioid overdose and can be life-saving.

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Conclusion

People often believe that marijuana is a low-risk drug since there aren’t many reported overdose cases from marijuana alone. Although it’s true that marijuana alone probably won’t kill you, it’s important to remember two things: firstly, marijuana is highly addictive and can cause many harmful long-term side effects. Secondly, marijuana can be laced with fentanyl (or other substances) without you knowing, which can cause catastrophic and unexpected results.

If you or a loved one is addicted to marijuana, reach out for help. Leading drug rehabilitation experts such as Avenues will help you detox in a safe way so that you can start your journey toward a drug-free life.

To learn more about fentanyl, including how fentanyl is made, read our online resources.

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