That stuff you’re smoking might not be what you think it is. Lacing is a common occurance where a drug is combined or “cut” with additives, either to increase its potency or to make the quantity of a drug seem greater than it actually is. These adulterated drugs are then given to unknowing users, often leading to devastating results.
The main culprit behind this deception? Fentanyl.
Exponentially more powerful heroin (and exponentially more addictive), this synthetic opioid is cheap to produce and easy to make. It’s also clear, odorless, and tasteless, making it virtually undetectable. Law enforcement has continuously found fentanyl’s presence in an array of street drugs, including marijuana. With cannabis being the most widely used drug around the world, it’s certainly a cause for concern—how certain are you that your marijuana hasn’t been tampered with?
What Your Marijuana Might Be Laced With
The good news is that fentanyl is a far less common additive to marijuana than it is for cocaine, meth, or other popular party drugs. The bad news is that it doesn’t mean that marijuana is off the hook. Despite weed already being far more potent than it was 20 years ago, drug dealers often lace marijuana with other drugs to disguise low-grade weed or, far more sinister, to purposefully make it addictive. Some of the most common drugs or chemicals used include:
- Cocaine – Also known as a “primo” the combination of an upper and downer carries a high risk of causing fatal cardiovascular problems
- Formaldehyde – Embalming fluid is a mixture of solvents and meant to be used for the preservation of dead bodies. It’s most often combined with synthetic weed and will greatly upset your central nervous system (increased heart rate, nausea, diarrhea) and possibly trigger psychotic side effects.
- Heroin – When mixed with pot, this opioid causes extreme feelings of relaxation and euphoria but at the cost of dangerously slowed central nervous system functionality. This has largely been replaced by fentanyl, however.
- Ketamine – A popular club drug, the doubled sedative effects are extremely dangerous and known to cause dehydration, overheating, and severe confusion.
- LSD – When this hallucinogen is combined with marijuana, it’s what’s known as a “rainbow joint”. Rather than being mixed together with the marijuana itself, these are typically marijuana joints that have been dipped into LSD.
- Methamphetamine – Powerful and fast-acting, it carries a high risk of triggering psychotic symptoms, which is already a risk of marijuana on its own.
- PCP – Another powerful psychedelic, it’s one of the most popular drugs used to lace weed. Street names include dusted weed, wet weed, super weed, or fry.
However, not all the nasty things added to your marijuana are illicit drugs. Sometimes these additives are household items used to enhance the appearance or increase the weight of the total product.
- Glass – Crushed glass is sometimes used to mimic the appearance of trichomes, the tiny white bulbs that contain the bulk of marijuana’s cannabinoids. The more trichomes, the stronger the weed’s effect.
- Fuel – Certain strains of weed are identifiable by their scent, which unscrupulous dealers will attempt to imitate using additives and pass off for things like Sour Diesel.
- Food coloring – Dealers will use food coloring dyes (the same ones used for cooking) to enhance the colors and make their wares look more appealing, typically with green and purple dyes. While not dangerous, it’s still deceptive and highly illegal.
- Laundry detergent – Similar to the purpose of using glass as an adulterant, laundry detergent makes weed more sparkly, heavier and can alter the smell.
- Oregano – This herb looks strikingly similar to the real thing, a fact that many a dealer has used to try and pull one over on unsuspecting users
Checking for Tampered Weed
If you’re purchasing medical marijuana from a licensed legitimate vendor, the likelihood of being given contained or laced weed is low. If you’re purchasing marijuana in any other circumstance (i.e. illegally), you’re opening yourself up to tremendous risk. Even if you think you know where your drugs are coming from (say, buying from a person you trust) things in the world of illicit drugs are rarely what they seem. It’s very possible that somewhere along the drug distribution chain, your marijuana, deliberately or not, came into contact with bad stuff. Always take care to inspect substances closely no matter who you buy from.Use all of your senses to determine if something is off.
Here are a few tips you can use to determine if your weed is laced with something:
- Smell it, if it seems off, hold it over a flame to see how it reacts. If it bursts into flames, causes sparks, or changes the color of the flame, it’s been tampered with
- Look for dust (real trichomes are sticky and will cling to your fingers rather than fall off)
- Break it in half and look for color changes (food coloring will only penetrate the surface)
- Check if coloration is uneven
- Avoid buying pre-ground weed
In the unfortunate case where you have ingested any amount of laced weed, fentanyl, or otherwise, the resulting polydrug use can quickly become life-threatening. Contact emergency services if you have a hard time breathing or an excessively slow or fast heartbeat.