Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, has repeated a myth about the dangers of marijuana being laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid and one of the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths in the United States.
“People are unwittingly ingesting it. It’s laced into heroin, marijuana, meth, cocaine, and it’s also just being distributed by itself,” Conway said in a news conference last week, as reported by BuzzFeed News.
While the fentanyl-contamination has been seen in heroin, and sometimes in cocaine and methamphetamine, there is no conclusive evidence of fentanyl-laced marijuana incidents. Snopes.com has an extensive fact-checking article full of claims of fentanyl in weed. It showed that any report of contamination was not based on facts.
When asked about the claims, White House spokespersons referred to a 2018 speech by Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). She said that "fentanyl is being used to lace a wide variety of drugs, including marijuana.”
The base for this claim is anecdotal reports from a Vancouver police report in 2015, but the BuzzFeed story shows that the same police department said they had not seen such a thing. No marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration has had any significant traces of the dangerous opioid in it. Despite the complete absence of proof, the myth doesn’t die. The myth has gone from hearsay and urban legend to being legitimized by the federal government.
These claims, and many like them, keep getting repeated over and over until they are often assumed to be true because “everyone has heard of them.” Another enduring myth is that severe fentanyl toxicity can be easily assimilated through the skin. If this were true, it would be bad news for first responders and law enforcement. However, once again members of government agencies are repeating the information until someone, like the American College of Medical Toxicology for example, actually look into it.
On average, 130 Americans die every day due to opioid-related overdose. Fentanyl is involved in 59 percent of those deaths, roughly 28,000 deaths per year. That's a huge increase over the last decade, when it was only responsible for 14.3 percent of deaths in 2010.
[H/T: BuzzFeed News]