Marijuana is the most commonly used drug nationwide. Its growing popularity and legalization have also led to talk of laced marijuana, which is cannabis that has had other substances added to it such as meth, cocaine, PCP and ecstasy.
Fortunately, laced marijuana isn’t as common as talking on the street would have you believe. Although uncommon, the dangers are real. Knowing what to look for and what to do if you or your friends encounter laced marijuana is important
How Common Is Laced Marijuana?
It’s hard to say how common laced marijuana is because users rarely admit they’ve encountered it unless they end up in the emergency room from it.
Nationwide, 5.6 percent of adults over age 26 have used marijuana in the past month. That number jumps to 19.1 percent for people over age 18 who have used in the past month. Among those who have used marijuana recently, it is likely that only a very small percentage have encountered laced marijuana.
Authorities in Texas, Arizona, Florida and other southern states in the U.S. have reported an increase in users of “fry,” a type of marijuana-laced cigarette. Fry isn’t new to the market, but use seems to be increasing. Marijuana blunts are dipped in codeine-based cough syrup or embalming fluid mixed with PCP.
Laced weed is more commonly reported when it has the potential to cause overdoses. In Vancouver, Canada, police reported seizing a stash of fentanyl-laced weed during a fentanyl-ring drug bust. Fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic that is highly addictive and easily causes an overdose. Police publicized their findings of laced weed to warn recreational drug users, especially casual pot smokers, to avoid buying weed in certain parts of Vancouver where the laced marijuana may show up on the streets. Smokers who had never been exposed to fentanyl were in serious danger of overdosing.
The Dangers of Laced Marijuana
As the Canadian report demonstrates, officials are growing increasingly concerned over laced marijuana. It’s still uncommon, but the dangers are real. The dangers of laced marijuana include:
- Overdose: The fentanyl-laced marijuana bust shows the increasing danger of unwitting overdoses from recreational drug use. Although someone may smoke marijuana only once or twice a year, the wrong joint could send them to the emergency room or the morgue, depending on which drug is used to lace the marijuana. You can’t tell by looking at laced marijuana that there’s something in it, so you can easily overdose if it’s laced without knowing it.
- Aggression: Marijuana laced with PCP can cause psychotic and dangerous behavior. People can commit violent crimes while under the influence of PCP. Add marijuana’s hallucinogenic effects to the mix and you’ve got a volatile cocktail of chemicals. Users often don’t remember what they did after smoking PCP-laced marijuana. Instead of relaxing, they can become unmanageable and violent.
- Breathing and heart problems: PCP and other drugs used to lace marijuana can causes changes in breathing and heart rate. Often a rapid heartbeat and elevated blood pressure accompany the most commonly used lacing drugs such as PCP, cocaine, and meth. Damage to your heart and lungs can occur.
- Psychotic behavior: Because the high is so strong from laced marijuana, psychotic symptoms can be bizarre and last longer than usual. This can result in being diagnosed with schizophrenia or other mental illnesses when you don’t actually have them.
- Addiction: Marijuana by itself is highly addictive. Weed sold today is a lot stronger than that smoked by your parents or grandparents. Growers have selectively bred marijuana to increase the amount of THC, the active ingredient in the plant. Add to that a potent cocktail of other highly addictive drugs like fentanyl, meth, cocaine or even heroin, and laced weed is even more addictive than regular weed. The chances of addiction increase from laced marijuana.
The Signs and Symptoms of Laced Marijuana
Smoking laced weeds create different symptoms than plain marijuana. Most users report that they know they’ve smoked something other than marijuana within 15 or 20 minutes after finishing a joint. The sensations are different.
Each drug used to lace marijuana causes different symptoms. These include:
- PCP-laced marijuana: Marijuana laced with PCP causes a wide range of symptoms including severe hallucinations, impaired coordination, slurred speech, aggressive or violent behavior, disorientation, paranoia, and seizures. If too much is smoked, the person can fall into a coma and die.
- Embalming fluid: PCP’s street name, “embalming fluid,” causes a lot of confusion. Some kids think that lacing their weed with actual embalming fluid can increase their high. True embalming fluid contains formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical. Anyone actually smoking weed laced with embalming fluid will damage their lungs, nasal passages, and even their brain. Actual embalming fluid is also used as a solvent to mix the PCP into a liquid “dip.” Blunts are dipped into this mixture to lace them with PCP. The resulting concoction causes severe paranoia, hallucinations, and violent behavior. Embalming fluid also accumulates in the spinal column and can stop growth in young children.
- Fentanyl: Fentanyl-laced marijuana is especially dangerous because it enters the brain faster than typical medical applications via a patch or lozenge. Clammy skin slowed heartbeat, seizures, and severe drowsiness are all signs of a fentanyl overdose. If you suspect that someone has accidentally smoked fentanyl-laced marijuana, get them to a hospital immediately. Too much fentanyl can actually stop the heart and brain functions, and it’s easy to overdose on it when it’s mixed with marijuana.
- Codeine-laced cough syrup: A specific, intentionally laced type of marijuana is called fry. Dealers take a blunt and dip it into codeine-laced cough syrup or embalming fluid mixed with PCP. The resulting marijuana is laced with additional drugs, and although users say it tastes and smells terrible, it results in a very powerful high. Fry smokers use the drug in groups because the resulting violence, paranoia, panic and occasional loss of consciousness can be dangerous. Users also experience strong hallucinations.
Anytime someone has a seizure or passes out and you can’t wake them up, call 9-1-1 and request help. Don’t wait for the person to wake up. An overdose of laced marijuana can be fatal, especially if someone has taken a drug they’re not used to. Breathing difficulties, trouble waking up and seizures are all signs that the brain has been affected and the person may be in serious trouble.
How to Tell If Marijuana Is Laced
Aside from fry smokers, who know that what they’re buying is laced, some dealers won’t say when marijuana is laced. Others get marijuana from friends who may not know if the drug is laced or not. To protect yourself, you need to know what to look for to tell if marijuana is laced.
- Smell it: Fresh marijuana smells green, like plants, grass or leaves. If it smells harsh, like gasoline, nail polish remover or other chemicals, it may have been laced.
- Look at it: Look for blue or white crystals. These are signs that marijuana may have been laced. Brown crystals can be natural to certain types of marijuana, but blue or white can indicate that other drugs have been added to it.
- Test it: The only way to really know for sure whether your marijuana is laced or not is to buy a drug testing kit. Kits can test for cocaine and meth, but not for other drugs, so just be aware that they can’t catch everything.
If you’re ever in any doubt about marijuana, throw it out. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry. Trust your instincts. They’re usually right. If you think you’ve got a bad batch of laced weed, don’t take chances. Get rid of it.
You may even consider giving up marijuana for good. Marijuana is dangerous. It’s highly addictive and often a gateway into taking harder drugs. Once you get used to smoking marijuana, it’s easy to dabble in other drugs, and you could eventually become addicted. The transformation from recreational drug user to a serious addict is faster than you may think.
Although many people today seem to think that it’s no more harmful than a glass of wine, experts say that marijuana causes long-term brain changes that can reduce your intelligence, disrupt memory and change how your brain works. Studies have shown that smoking marijuana can reduce your I.Q. by 8 points. Most people would agree that you need brainpower to be a success in life. Don’t do anything to jeopardize your natural-born intelligence.
Will You Encounter Laced Marijuana?
Fortunately, laced marijuana is still a rarity. Most dealers aren’t giving product away for free, and lacing takes away drugs they can sell on their own. Although there are rumors that dealers lace marijuana to get users hooked more rapidly and strongly to their products, it’s economically unlikely they’d cut into their profits.
Some types of laced marijuana, such as the previously mentioned fry, are on the rise throughout the southern United States. Canada has seen pockets of marijuana laced with opiates including fentanyl and heroin, but it is reasonably rare. PCP-laced marijuana is more common throughout the United States.
Incidences of laced marijuana tend to occur in pockets. Sometimes, one person tries laced weed and recommends it to their friends. A dealer may get in a bad batch, or someone may share laced marijuana with friends. This may make the problem seem worse than it really is.
Whether or not laced marijuana remains scarce is unknown. Like fashion and music, drugs follow trends, too. Lacing drugs have been around for a long time, whether it’s laced marijuana, heroin or cocaine.
Get Help for Your Marijuana Addiction
We’re not making light of smoking marijuana, nor advocating safe marijuana use. There’s no such thing. The marijuana on the street today is many times stronger and more addictive than marijuana in the past. Some experts even want to classify it as a new and different drug because it’s so powerful.
Any use of illegal drugs or abuse of legal, prescription, and over-the-counter medications can be fatal. Drugs not only mess up your body, but they mess up your life. A casual marijuana habit can turn into a serious habit, addiction or multiple addictions over time.
At 12 Keys, we can help you with a marijuana addiction, chemical dependency, and even mental health challenges. Our structured yet flexible setting helps people recover from addiction.
12 Keys offers traditional recovery programs mixed with experiential activities that help people recover from their addiction. Individual and group therapy helps clients discover some of the underlying causes of their addiction, while 12-step meetings help people embrace the ‘spiritual awakening’ necessary for sobriety.
Our comfortable facility, low client-to-staff ratio, and compassionate staff can help you recover and claim your life once again. If you’re tired of struggling with drug addiction, marijuana addiction and more, give us a call. We understand how you feel and are here to answer any questions you may have.