Police departments in upstate New York are issuing a warning about dangerous street drugs after seizing cannabis laced with fentanyl. The powerful drug has been a factor in a multitude of overdose deaths in the United States, which is still in the grips of an epidemic of opioid addiction.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office said that marijuana that was confiscated by officers in the parking lot of a Walmart in the town of Thompson on Monday had tested positive for fentanyl. The sheriff’s office said that it was the first time the drug had been discovered in the area.
In a separate incident in the town of Knox on Thursday, first responders had to revive three people who had overdosed in a car while still in the middle of the road, according to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. Another driver who had come upon the car on the road and discovered the stricken trio had called 911 for assistance.
Although claims of pot laced with fentanyl have been made in the past, many maintain the reports are fake news.
Fentanyl is a strong synthetic analgesic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is sold legally by prescription in lozenge and patch form under the brand names Actiq, Duragesic, and, Sublimaze. Other drugs including heroin have been found to be laced with illicit fentanyl on numerous occasions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, street names for fentanyl or for fentanyl-laced heroin include Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash. Counterfeit oxycodone tablets have also been found to be manufactured from fentanyl. The USA Today has reported that in 2016, 29 percent of all overdose deaths were associated with fentanyl.
Drugs can be tested for fentanyl contamination with strips that can be purchased at some drug stores or online, without a prescription and without special credentials, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. To use them, a small amount of a drug is placed in water, followed by the test strip, which will indicate the presence of fentanyl.