What is Laced Weed? The Effects, Risks, and How to Identify It
Laced weed is extremely rare, but not unheard of. If you’re suspicious, here’s what to look for.
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Laced weed is one of the reasons that legalizing cannabis is an excellent idea. It’s bad enough worrying about what chemicals were used to grow your weed. You shouldn’t also have to worry, too, about whether you’re going to accidentally light up some Fentanyl and end up in the ER. Fortunately, laced cannabis is still quite rare. However, dealers and shady sources have occasionally resorted to adulterating the cannabis they sell with other ingredients. If you or a friend smoked something from the black market that didn’t seem quite right, use this guide to figure it out.
What is Laced Weed?
Simply stated, laced weed is cannabis that has been adultered with either stronger drugs or substances used to mask poor-quality marijuana. Personal users lace their own weed with drugs like cocaine and LSD too. A joint or bowl laced with cocaine is called “primo,” and a joint with LSD-laced paper is often called a “rainbow joint.” It is also not unheard of for users to add heroin, meth, PCP, and MDMA to their weed in order to soften the effects or come down from those drugs.
Yet, some adulterants are more nefarious. A desperate dealer can use dangerous means to improve the appearance of low-grade cannabis. Crushed glass can make it sparkle with the appearance of more trichomes, making it appear more potent. Powdered laundry detergent can also be sprinkled in to give the appearance of lots of kief and manipulate the smell.
Dealers have even been known to give nostrils a false kick by spraying the herb with diesel fuel, skunk spray, and perfume, or putting it in a bag containing fruit peels or moldy cheese to make unremarkable weed resemble the odors of powerful, signature strains. Even spraying or dipping buds in food coloring and powdered sugar is not unheard of. Most often, weed is simply moistened or mixed with oregano or other plant material to add weight.
However, before you raise the alarm, it’s important to put things into perspective. Lacing cannabis is still extremely rare, except by personal users with their own stuff. Much of the hype of laced weed is a scare tactic promoted by prohibitionists and the police. Even gangs want repeat customers, and knockoff or laced weed is a quick way to ruin your reputation. Usually, concerns over laced cannabis are often sounded by light smokers who are not accustomed to the more powerful effects of THC, which can be quite strong in high doses.
If you’ve smoked a little too much cannabis, don’t be surprised if you experience any of these side effects:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased appetite
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- A heavy-body sensation
What Can Weed Be Laced With?
Weed can be laced with a variety of drugs and other materials, both intentionally and unintentionally. Even in legal states, cannabis can have fungi, bacteria and contaminants that are potentially harmful to immunocompromised patients. This is not the result of intentional lacing, of course, but rather, because the weed was not grown or stored properly. That being said, the chances of actually experiencing significant harm from these products is extremely low. The real stuff you have to look out for are drugs like PCP and Fentanyl. It’s rare for weed to be laced with these things, but there have been reports in the news about it—and the side effects aren’t pretty. These are all the drugs and contaminants weed can be laced with:
- Lead or Other Heavy Metals
- Fungus and Bacteria
- Laundry Detergent
- Food Coloring
- Fuel Additives and Other Smell Adulterants
Can Weed Be Laced With Acid?
It’s highly, highly unlikely that you’re going to buy weed that was “laced with acid.” When LSD is heated, it breaks down the drug, which means it can’t be smoked. Some people like to lace their own weed with acid—called a rainbow joint—because it induces a powerful trip (think 12 hours, powerful). The way they do this is just by putting acid on the tip of the joint so that it’s absorbed as they’re smoking the weed. Is this better than just taking a tab and then smoking a joint? Questionable. The good news is, however, if a friend—a bad friend, that is—gives you a rainbow joint without telling you, you’re not going to die from it. You might feel like you’re dying—or being reborn, rather—but there’s no actual risk of death, addiction, or anything else scary and long-term.
Can Weed Be Laced With Coke?
Dank bud might release some white trichomes, but if you’re seeing tons of white powder on your flower, it could be laced. You should know relatively quickly if your weed is laced with cocaine cause your mouth will start to feel numb as you smoke it, a symptom that’s unheard of with cannabis. Other symptoms include paranoia and extreme irritation. Of course, this can happen too if you smoke (or eat) wayyyyy too much weed so you’ll just have to gauge for yourself whether it’s so intense you might need medical attention.
Can Weed Be Laced With Molly?
Weed can be laced with molly, otherwise known as MDMA or ecstasy, but, again, it’s highly unlikely. Dealers are most likely to lace weed with drugs that will save them money by making the weed smell danker or weigh more—molly is not an effective way for them to do either of those things. That being said, some people do crush up MDMA and put in it on their weed. People say they enjoy combining the two drugs because weed can soften the harshness of MDMA and enhance its psychedelic effects. In fact, one report found that 90 percent of people who use molly also recreationally use weed. It’s much more popular, however, to take MDMA in pill form and then smoke weed because smoking molly just doesn’t work that well. We don’t condone taking molly as it can be fatal, especially in a recreational context.
Can Weed Be Laced With DMT?
It can, but, again, it’s highly unlikely you’ll buy weed that’s already laced with it. You’ll know because once you light it up, it’ll smell really, really bad. Some people lace their weed with DMT because they say it makes the DMT go down smoother. It can be sprinkled into a joint or blunt or put into a bowl. Some people say it’s a waste of weed to do this, though, and it’s better to take the drugs separately. DMT has a significantly lower burning point than cannabis. Also, as anyone who has done DMT or heard the stories knows, it hits fast and will quickly take you to another dimension. You don’t want the joint or blunt still burning when that happens.
Can Weed Be Laced With PCP?
A small number of dealers sell weed laced with PCP, but they typically advertise it. PCP, otherwise known as angel dust, is a strong hallucinogenic drug. If you smoke weed with PCP, you should know immediately. You’ll feel detached from yourself and your environment. One smoke sesh on this nasty stuff can cause nerve and brain damage.
Can Weed Be Laced With Crack?
Again, it could happen, but it’s unlikely. People do, however, choose to smoke weed and crack together in pipes (not joints). These bowls are called “woolies” and people like them because the weed can soften the comedown of the crack. The high itself will feel most like, well, crack: a euphoric rush that’s highly addictive. Don’t do it.
Can Weed Be Laced With Meth?
It’s not impossible for weed to be laced with meth, but, like the other substances on this list, it’s more expensive than weed so a dealer would be losing money if they did this. If a dealer was to lace their weed with meth, they’d likely just sell it to clients they think might be interested in such a product. Obviously, don’t try it. If you are really worried, though, that you got some weed laced with meth, pay attention to how it smells when it’s burning. It will have a chemical-like smell. It will also make you hyperactive, raise your heart rate, and potentially raise your body temperature. It’s meth for god’s sake.
Can Weed Be Laced With Fentanyl?
This is a scary one. A number of reports actually have come out about fentanyl-laced marijuana. Fentanyl, an opioid which is said to be ten times more powerful than heroin, is largely responsible for the opioid overdose crisis ravaging North America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, no deaths have been reported as a result of fentanyl-laced marijuana, but it’s definitely not something you want to mess around with.
How Do You Lace Weed?
There are two main ways that weed can be laced with other drugs: it’s sprinkled into weed or used to coat the wrapping paper of something that’s already been rolled. The most popular way to lace weed is to just mix it in with flower and then roll it up into a joint or blunt. It can also be smoked in a bowl or pipe. As mentioned above, however, this won’t work for all drugs. LSD, for example, can’t be heated. And while it works with other drugs, it’s not necessarily going to work well. The most common way to lace weed with drugs that are liquid is to soak a joint or blunt in the drug and wait for it to dry.
Can You Lace Weed With Acid?
Yes, just put a few drops of it on the crutch of your joint and wait for it to dry. If you bought acid tabs, you can soak a tab in vodka for 24 hours and then pour the tincture into a dropper bottle. Be prepared for an intense trip.
Laced Weed Effects
With all of the different substances out there, it is very difficult to tell what might be passed along with some bud. Besides preventing a mellow cannabis high, laced weed can give you the effects of any other drug it contains. In the worst case scenario, accidental drug intoxication can result in:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Decreased appetite
- Lowered heart rate
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty Breathing
- Feeling lightheaded
- Organ failure
Many illicit substances also interact with common pharmaceutical medications, making laced cannabis especially dangerous for patients. Always seek medical attention if you’re concerned that you are having a reaction to an unknown drug.
How Can I Tell if My Weed is Laced?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways to alter cannabis. Prewrapped joints can contain a mixture of cannabis and various other substances, including synthetic marijuana or crack cocaine. Obtaining your herb from a reputable source and looking at testing data whenever possible is the only way to avoid getting bunk cannabis. If you’re concerned about your stuff, here are seven ways to tell if you’ve been smoking laced weed.
Taking a close look at your bud is recommended before consuming. Cannabis trichomes are small, milky white to amber crystals that can rub off into a sticky powder. Rolling and squeezing a little cannabis between your fingers can help you determine whether or not there is something extra on your herb.
Sometimes, dealers looking to unload some schwag cannabis for a higher price will sprinkle them with laundry detergent or glass slivers to create the illusion of a resin-laden cannabis strain. Crushed pills and other drugs can also be sprinkled on top of a bowl, a joint, or dusted on a bud to look like kief.
Kief that comes off of cannabis should have an herbal, earthy, or pungent aroma. Cannabis should be sticky and not grainy when you rub it in between your fingers. Kief crystals will be fairly consistent in color. They will not be pure white nor will they be a transparent crystal color. Kief crystals will be milky white or will feature very slight amber, yellow hues. Kief that has been pressurized will turn brown.
In general, it’s good to avoid cannabis that does not have a pleasing aroma. Damp or musty smelling cannabis may be moldy. Cannabis with a strong chemical odor may either be laced or contain traces of pesticides, insecticides, or fungicides.
A strong and unpleasant aroma sort of like molten plastic is a sign that the cannabis has been laced with DMT, a hallucinogen that causes a short period of separation from reality. Though, many other substances can cause a nasty, burning aroma too. If the smell becomes more intense and unpleasant as you are smoking, it may be best to put the stuff down.
Feeling a harsh burning pain after smoking cannabis is a sign that it is contaminated. A metallic flavor may indicate that the grower did not discontinue pesticide or nutrient use in a timely manner before harvest. A chemical flavor is common in cannabis laced with synthetic drugs. If the herb has a flavor similar to that of biting into an ibuprofen tablet, that’s a surefire sign that something is wrong with your bud.
Smoking cannabis that pops and sparks when touched with a flame is also a bad sign. Sometimes, cannabis that contains seeds may pop when heated. But, if the herb is popping quite a lot it may not have been flushed properly or may be contaminated by another substance.
Excessive Talkativeness, Energy, and Euphoria
The primary psychoactive in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can inspire laughter, chatting, and euphoria. However, if you feel like you’re talking incessantly and can’t stop, or you feel like you have more energy than you should, this may be a sign that your cannabis has been laced with some sort of stimulant. Stimulant drugs that may be rolled into a joint or coated onto a bud include:
- Crack cocaine
Agitation and Inability to Sleep
In general, cannabis is a relaxed and low-key herb. However, if you or someone you know suddenly becomes more aggressive or is acting a little too revved up, this may be a sign of tainted cannabis. Methamphetamine, PCP, and crack cocaine are three street drugs which can cause intense paranoia, agitation, or aggressive behavior. If someone is acting erratic, it is important to seek medical attention. It’s also important to avoid acquiring or consuming cannabis products from unreliable sources or strangers.
Similarly, if you find that you are unable to sleep or do not feel tired when you should, this is a sign that your cannabis may have been laced with a stimulant. Some cannabis strains are known to be more energizing, like a strong cup of coffee. However, a feeling of energy or alertness that is significantly stronger than your average cup of joe is a sign that there may be something a little odd with your cannabis.
Unconsciousness and Memory Loss
Tragically, the “roofie,” also known as Rohypnol, can also be added to cannabis. The powerful tranquilizer can induce unconsciousness, impairment, and memory loss. The effects of this drug kick in 20 to 30 minutes after ingestion. If you begin to notice an intense drowsiness or wooziness that seems similar to being drunk, call for help as soon as possible. Though cannabis also has a reputation for affecting memory, the herb does not cause prolonged memory loss or blackouts.
Consumers typically remember what they did while under the influence of cannabis. If you cannot remember what happened after consuming cannabis but can remember events prior to using the herb, it is a strong sign that it has been laced. Seek help from police or a trusted friend if necessary. Several other drugs can cause unconsciousness, however. If someone around you falls unconscious after consuming cannabis, seek immediate medical care.
Pain is one of the most common reasons patients seek out medical cannabis recommendations. Cannabis has a reputation for creating a slightly numb, heavy bodied sensation. However, if this numbness is strong enough to hinder your ability to feel pain, it is a sign that your herb has been contaminated with opioids or cocaine.
Testing Laced Weed: How Do You Know if Marijuana Is Laced?
If you’re lucky enough to live in a legal state, then laced weed isn’t something you need to worry about. Laced weed is quite rare. However, if your herb does happen to be laced with something, chances are an uncomfortable, if not dangerous, experience is about to unfold. If you are suspicious of some bud that you just picked up, then here are six tips to help keep you safe.
Take a Close Look at your Bud
Wondering if your weed is laced? Take a look at it with a magnifying glass. Trichomes are brown to clear in color. They will come away from the bud if pressed loose, but they won’t just fall off. If you notice signs of mold or mildews or a white powdery substance, chances are you don’t want to smoke your sample.
You can also check for laced cannabis by shaking your flower. Over a black surface, gently tap your bud. If blue or white crystals fall off then your weed may be laced. Check for the color, and the best way to know for sure is using a jeweler’s loop or a 420 Scope to see it up close.
Test for Crushed Glass
Crushed glass can be added to weed to make it weigh more and make it look like there are more trichome resin glands, which house the precious psychoactive THC. Fortunately, testing for glass is easy. Rub a bud that seems extra coated in shiny crystals on a CD—bud will not scratch the surface, but glass will. This one depends on how fresh and stemless your bud is. Nothing in fresh buds should be hard enough to permanently scratch a CD. Sure, it may put a little mark on it that you can rub off, but not a permanent scratch.
Test for Laundry Detergent
If you smoke weed laced with laundry detergent, you’ll taste the chemicals along with the fragrance of the detergent. A dodgy dealer may coat buds in laundry detergent to make it look like there are more crystals. Testing for laundry detergent is also very easy. First, find a small watertight container and put some water in it along with some of the weed in question. Next, simply shake the container and look for suds of soap.
Test for Fuel Additives
Wondering if that dank Diesel you picked up actually contains some diesel? Fortunately, there’s a way to test for that. Many cannabis strains have a distinct fuel-like scent. While this is a mark of high-quality flower, some sketchy sources may alter cannabis with actual fuel to enhance the scent. Needless to say, this is not something you should be smoking. To test for fuel additives, break off a moist piece of bud and hold it over a flame. If it’s been soaked in fuel, the bud will flare up.
Test for Smell Enhancers
Cannabis strains can produce some of the most unique aromas in the plant kingdom. Yet, poor-quality weed may not produce much of a scent. To make buds more appealing, perfumes and fragrance chemicals may be added to enhance the dank smell of the bud. You can test for fragrance additives by watching the color of the flame as you smoke. Chemical treatments can change the color of the flame when applied to your bud. As it burns, the buds will also smell harsh and chemical-like.
Test for PCP (Embalming Fluid)
“Embalming fluid” and “Angel Dust” is slang for phencyclidine (PCP), which is a pain-killing drug that became popular on the street due to its ability to cause hallucinations and make people feel, well, high A-F. However, PCP is extremely dangerous. Not only can it cause multiple organ failure, but it is also associated with aggressive behavior and psychotic symptoms. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights in Florida has even expressed concern over people consuming PCP-laced cannabis.
While it is difficult to tell whether or not you have consumed PCP-laced cannabis without consuming it, there are a few side effects that can tip you off regarding whether or not something has gone terribly wrong. These include:
- Sudden feelings of unnatural strength
- Increased heart rate (for an extended period of time)
- Severe paranoia
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
- Staggered gait
- Uncontrollable eye movement
Cannabis may also be laced with formaldehyde, which is actual embalming fluid. This practice is arguably more common with synthetic cannabis, as adding formaldehyde may make the product seem stronger. Formaldehyde, however, is extremely toxic. It is a well-known carcinogen and also causes respiratory distress. Cannabis laced with actual embalming fluid will cause symptoms of:
- Bad headaches
- Increased heart rate
- Chest pain
- An extreme cough and wheezing
- Dry mouth and throat
- Severe paranoia
What To Do If You Have Laced Weed Symptoms
When you are buying weed off of the streets, you can never really tell what’s in it or whether or not you’re getting a safe product. While most dispensary and coffee shop cannabis is free of weird additives, weed that is laced with cocaine, molly, amphetamines, or even laundry detergent does exist for some strange and unfortunate reason. However, if you’re wondering how to remedy the situation, here are four things to do if you’ve smoked laced weed.
Get to Urgent Care
Whether or not your weed was actually laced, if you’re having a bad reaction to cannabis it’s important to get to an urgent care clinic. Some tell-tale signs that you need emergency medical attention include:
- Seizure (get to the emergency room)
- An unusual amount of energy
- An unusual amount of strength
- Intrusive, racing thoughts
- Talking incessantly without stopping or talking nonsense
- Excessive agitation or aggression
- Terrible allergic reaction
- Feeling overly intoxicated or drunk
- Slurring words
- Unusual gait
- Difficulty staying conscious
- Memory blackouts
- Extreme, debilitating paranoia
Phone a Friend
Reactions to laced cannabis depend entirely on what was put on your herb. Sometimes, you may feel a little bit off but not enough to need a trip to urgent care. If you suspect that something is not quite right, getting a trusted friend on the phone can be a real lifesaver.
Let your friend or loved one know about your concern and let them know exactly how you are feeling. If your friend is concerned, they may advise you to get to urgent care. Or, they may be able to talk or stay with you until the uncomfortable symptoms subside. In the case that your reaction to the laced cannabis becomes worse, it’s important to have someone around who understands the situation and can help you.
Let Yourself Vomit
If you smoke cannabis or eat an edible and you begin vomiting, chances are you need to get that stuff out of your body. In this instance, it’s best to just let your body do what it needs to do. If you begin vomiting uncontrollably or cannot stop vomiting, it’s time for a trip to urgent care.
If you are searching for relief from nausea or vomiting, here are a few ways to soothe yourself:
- Sit in a hot shower.
- Take slow sips of water.
- Drink a mug of ginger or peppermint tea.
- Eat simple carbohydrates like white rice or a banana.
- Avoid alcohol and large meals until you are feeling healthy again.
Get to a Safe and Comfortable Environment
If you’re not quite at the point of needing urgent care, it’s important to make sure you get to a safe and comfortable environment. Cannabis is known to cause paranoia, which can sometimes make the idea of smoking laced weed more traumatic than the reality of the situation.
While inhaling or ingesting laced weed is a serious problem and deserves close attention, just chilling out can make a big difference. Getting to a quiet space where you can ride out the rest of the experience can certainly help. However, make sure to contact a trusted friend to be safe. If symptoms continue to get worse, get to a doctor.