In the latest scare tactic, U.S. Senator Rob Portman and the coroner of Hamilton County, Ohio Lakshmi Sammarco sent out a dire warning on Monday; cannabis is being laced with fentanyl. In a press conference to address the raging opioid crisis in Ohio, the two placed much of the blame on fentanyl-laced weed. The problem? There’s absolutely no evidence to support their theory.
What is fentanyl?
Fentanyl is an incredibly potent synthetic opioid medication that is 50 times more potent than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Its pharmacological uses are as an anesthetic or analgesic.
It is highly addictive and is certainly a danger on its own merits for sure, having claimed over 47,000 lives in 2014. While speaking to the press, Sammarco claimed,
We have seen fentanyl mixed with cocaine, we have also seen fentanyl mixed with marijuana.
Yet, the details are hazy. Sammarco could not offer any answers as to the number of fentanyl-laced weed instances authorities had found, nor could he produce any proof of overdoses that were a result of the combination when pressed for additional information.
Sammarco did make reference to the dangers of ‘street drugs’ however, to back up her point,
Essentially, the message we’ve tried to get out there is if you are using any form of street drugs, cound on them having some form of synthetic opioid mixed in.
You can’t make this stuff up
Since Monday, it has become clear why Sammarco struggled to provide details on the matter. The Cincinnati Enquirer followed up with the DEA and Ohio local narcotics enforcement and found that there were zero recorded instances of fentanyl-laced weed.
In addition, their local medical examiner’s office has seen no overdoses due to the combination. As it turns out, Sammarco may have been misled by a series of posts circulating on social media with warnings about fentanyl being found in weed.
She also admitted that she’d been told that Portman, the U.S. senator who joined her in the press conference, had “told her it had been spotted in northeast Ohio,” but she didn’t know where or from whom the senator had received his information from according to VICE.
This is not the first time that Portman has made these unfounded statements. In March, Sen. Portman told the Senate,
Drug traffickers are lacing other drugs with it [fentanyl]. I was told by the DART Task Force in Toledo that they’re actually sprinkling it in marijuana now, and people are showing up in the emergency room and overdosing on marijuana sprinkled with fentanyl. It’s more addictive, so the traffickers like it.
And even then, Portman’s claims were dismissed by the very source he says he obtained the information from. When asked about the statement, Lt. Bobby Chromik of the Toledo DART told MassRoots, “I personally have not heard it. That stuff is usually reported directly to me.”
It’s unclear what their true motives might be, but the best way to address the opioid crisis and save lives is to act upon fact-based evidence. Until then, this just sounds like this is just another instance of ‘reefer madness’ hysteria.