Fentanyl in Cannabis? That’s Not A Thing.

Kellyanne Conway lied about something! Again!

This week, the White House counselor and opioid crisis czar falsely stated during a news conference, yet again, that cannabis is being laced with fentanyl, bringing her blatant-lie tally to roughly 218,738.

The story is likely to gain traction with outlets such as Fox News, but Buzzfeed News provided a great breakdown as to why it’s not true.

Conway was discussing fentanyl, and claimed, “People are unwittingly ingesting it. It’s laced into heroin, marijuana, meth, cocaine, and it’s also just being distributed by itself.”

Fentanyl is showing up in certain illicit drugs like coke and pills, but there’s no evidence of it showing up in cannabis, from markets regulated and unregulated. An easy way to determine if this were true is whether it was showing up in the cannabis seized by agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration.

But earlier this month, a lead chemist for the DEA addressed this question, stating that there was absolutely no fentanyl found in any of the cannabis they had seized.

Someone called out Conway on the pieces of freshly cut horseshit cake she was attempting to force-feed reporters, and per Buzzfeed News, she cited a 2018 speech given by Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Volkow claimed, “Fentanyl is being used to lace a wide variety of drugs, including marijuana.”

A number of things have contributed to this modern-day urban legend.

NIDA cites a 2015 “anecdotal report” from the Vancouver, BC, police department claiming cannabis containing fentanyl was killing cannabis smokers. Which would have been terrible, except it wasn’t happening.

In fact, in 2016, the same police department admitted they had actually not come across any cannabis like that, so never mind. Some attributed the confusion to those who OD’ed on fentanyl having also consumed cannabis, yet the cannabis wasn’t the fatal component of that mixture.

Some experts believe the drug-test strips used to detect fentanyl are generating “false positives,” as they can detect the drug to one billionth of a gram.

Buzzfeed News pointed out that drug dealers handling both cannabis and fentanyl could easily inadvertently transfer that micro amount to cannabis (yet another reason to remove cannabis from the illegal marketplace through legalization). But, said one expert, “The positive samples are from levels of contamination that are not clinically meaningful. They are not felt by the person.”

Then there is the ongoing confusion between cannabis and “synthetic” cannabis, AKA K2 or Spice, which are the misleading catchall terms for products that have an ever-changing array of dangerous chemicals sprayed onto a smoking blend that’s designed to look like cannabis.

Large-scale overdoses by users of K2 have resulted in contradictory reports from first responders regarding the presence of fentanyl in the synthetic weed. And as the formula for that is constantly changing, it’s impossible to determine with any certainty.

So, no, there is no legitimate concern that cannabis purchased from a dispensary, grown by a friend, or even purchased through illicit channels is going to contain any fentanyl at all. Kellyanne Conway should know there are bigger things to worry about.

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies OregonCannabisConcierge.com and CaliforniaCannabisConcierge.com. His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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