Fentanyl-Laced Weed Hits the Underground as Legalization Stalls in New York

Jeff Klingman

New York State officials hesitant about moving forward with legal, adult-use cannabis because of potential public safety problems may be pointing their concern in the wrong direction.

Police in two separate upstate towns issued warnings this month after discovering black market cannabis laced with the potentially deadly substance fentanyl.

Marijuana that tested positive for fentanyl was seized by police in the small town of Thompson on April 8th.

A few days later on April 11th, and a few hours away in the town of Knox, 3 people were hospitalized after overdosing on laced marijuana in a car stopped in the middle of the road, after another driver called for help.

Sheriff Craig Apple described the incident as the first time fentanyl has been found in Albany County.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, has become an American scourge over the past decade.

According to the CDC, the number of overdose deaths linked to fentanyl has increased from 3,000 to 28,000 since 2013.

It’s often been mixed with heroin or cocaine unbeknownst to users, which ups the danger for deadly results. The opioid overdose crisis has grown so great in recent years, that the United States has actually seen it’s average life expectancy decline for the first time in decades.

If fentanyl traces continue to pop up in black market marijuana, New York lawmakers should take notice. Implementing the rigorous testing associated with the legal, adult-use markets in other states could quickly become a vital way to protect people’s health.