Fentanyl-laced marijuana has been confirmed in Connecticut after a string of overdoses were reported throughout the past few months. According to a press release from the Connecticut State Department of Public Health, since July, the Office of Emergency Medical Services has reviewed reports of patients with opioid overdose symptoms and required naloxone for revival, where people claimed to have only smoked weed.
The report found 11 cases in July, nine in both August and September, and 10 from Oct. 1st through the 26th across the state. Officials were able to locate and test a sample of the marijuana used by those experiencing opioid overdose symptoms. The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of Scientific Services Forensic Lab found the product obtained by the Plymouth Police Department tested positive for marijuana, fentanyl, and Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol.
“This is the first lab-confirmed case of marijuana with fentanyl in Connecticut and possibly the first confirmed case in the United States,” said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.” Overdoses related to fentanyl use have grown as the coronavirus pandemic continues. The New York Times reported during the 12-month period that ended in April, more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses, up almost 30 percent from the 78,000 deaths in the prior year and more than doubled since 2015. With 100,000 fatalities, the number is the highest ever for the time frame, totaling more than the toll of car crashes and gun fatalities combined.
“If we had talked a year ago, I would have told you deaths are skyrocketing. But I would not have guessed it would get to this,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, medical director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
On Nov. 17., Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy led a press call with Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and other Biden-Harris Administration to address the deadly epidemic.
“To change this unprecedented level of drug overdose death, we must continue to pursue the innovative science that addresses the rapidly changing drug supply, addiction crisis, and related harms,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.
In October, New Jersey artist Fetty Wap was arrested on federal charges including allegations he and five others were responsible for the trafficking of 100 kilograms of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and crack. He was released on Nov. 6 on a $500,000 bond.