Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis Makes a Case for Legalization and Regulation

Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis Makes a Case for Legalization and Regulation

Word on the street is fentanyl-laced cannabis, which is currently affecting non-regulated cannabis products in black markets, is contributing to the opioid crisis in the US. Earlier this month, reports of individuals overdosing from cannabis peppered with fentanyl surfaced from Ohio.

The possibility of such events is not far-fetched and have been entertained by local residents in the area. According to Special Agent in Charge Michael Ferguson of the Drug Enforcement Administration, it only takes two milligrams of the drug to kill a person. A tiny sprinkle on a plant is very difficult to detect.

The highly addictive opioid is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and roughly 100 times more potent than morphine.

Reports of the deadly mixture originated from Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, during a press conference with Senator Rob Portman. Sammarco provided questionable data to back up her statement, citing that 297 locals died due to suspected opioid overdoses in the first two quarters of the year. In 2016, that figure was at 403.

“Drug traffickers are lacing other drugs with it. I was told by the DART Task Force in Toledo that they’re actually sprinkling fentanyl in marijuana now, and people are showing up in the emergency room and overdosing on marijuana because it’s sprinkled with fentanyl,” said Portman.

However, Sammarco failed to clarify exactly how many of those deaths were related to fentanyl-laced cannabis. Instead, she advised people that the possibility of encountering potentially deadly forms of the plant (with fatal doses of the opioid) is highly likely.

fentanyl-laced-cannabis

“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,” said Sammarco.

In order to pacify concerned individuals, which now includes thousands of people across the country, Andrea Hatton, an administrator with the Hamilton County Coroner’s office, verified such reports were non-existent.

“We in Cincinnati have not, in fact, seen fentanyl-laced marijuana,” said Hatton. “There are no reported cases of it.”

Hatton explained that blood screening is common practice during autopsies. The presence of multiple substances in individuals who overdosed on fentanyl may have caused some people to arrive at the conclusion that the opioid is being mixed with cannabis. The administrator emphasized that this does not necessarily mean the substances were consumed together.

US Drug Enforcement Administration representative Melvin Patterson also spoke out about the issue during a timely interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, citing that the organization has not seen cannabis mixed with fentanyl. Patterson said “there could be” such cases. But without legitimate reports, it would be irresponsible to jump to any conclusions that could indirectly affect the reputation of the legal cannabis industry.

From a legalization standpoint, the possibility of fentanyl-laced cannabis is another reason to double down on regulating cannabis, in states that don’t have legal cannabis laws in place. With increased quality control and the implementation of strict cultivation practices, law enforcement would be able to easily track batches of illegally mixed or tampered cannabis.

Medical Marijuana Rejected by Tasmanian Parliament

Medical Marijuana Rejected by Tasmanian Parliament

Marijuana is commonly used for medicinal purposes on Tasmania, the island state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Last week, an interim parliamentary report recommended that the use of medical marijuana be decriminalized immediately. Today, that request has already been rejected by parliament.

A government committee, lead by chairwoman Ruth Forrest, had been investigating medical marijuana use in the state since July so that an accurate report could be presented to parliament. Over the course of three days, twenty-three different testimonies were heard on the matter from current users and field experts. Seventy-seven patient submissions were also received by the committee during this time. The committee concluded that current laws no longer agree with what the people believe. The people want to at least decriminalize the medicinal use of cannabis.

The committee’s recommendation for immediate, compassionate, action was submitted just one week ago. The committee found that marijuana was used widely throughout the island to control epilepsy and other conditions as well as to treat pain and nausea. The report recommends decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana so that those using the plant medicinally do not not add possible prosecution their suffering. The report also recommended establishing legislative action to legalize a personal cultivation and caregiver program for the island state.

The government has decided not to move forward with immediate legislative action as recommended by the committee. Michael Ferguson, the state’s health minister, stated that legislation will not be updated at this time. However, parliament did agree to look into the matter. The investigative committee intends to continue building a case through hearing and recording testimony from patients and medical experts.

photo credit: Daily News

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