Connecticut Warns of Fentanyl-Laced Marijuana After Drug Sample Tests Positive for the Opioid

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is alerting residents of possible fentanyl-laced marijuana following a string of overdoses in the state

marijuana
Photo: Getty

Connecticut health officials are warning of a possible trend of fentanyl-laced marijuana in the state.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health issued a press release Thursday stating that a sample of marijuana found in Plymouth, Conn. had tested positive for fentanyl.

CDPH outlined multiple recent cases in the state in which patients required naloxone, an emergency drug used to reverse narcotic overdoses, after consuming marijuana. The CDPH noted that the patients "denied any opioid use," and instead claimed they "only smoked marijuana."

Marijuana
Getty

According to CDPH, the cases were not concentrated in one area of the state, but were "dispersed across Connecticut." Plymouth, in particular, saw "several" overdoses in October in patients who said they only smoked marijuana.

The Plymouth Police Department collected a sample of marijuana from the scene of an overdose and sent it to be tested by The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of Scientific Services Forensic Lab, which determined that the sample contained fentanyl.

Test results revealed the sample contained marijuana, Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and fentanyl, per the CDPH press release.

"This is the first lab-confirmed case of marijuana with fentanyl in Connecticut and possibly the first confirmed case in the United States," DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, stated in the press release.

In July, The Connecticut Overdose Response Strategy and the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services, reported 11 such overdose cases, and saw nine cases each in August and September. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 26, they reported 10 such cases, according to the press release.

Fentanyl is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as a synthetic opioid that's "50 to 100 times more potent than morphine."

The drug has become increasingly common in the U.S. in the past decade, and has contributed to a growing number of overdose deaths. According to the CDC, the rate of overdose deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl was 12 times higher in 2019 than in 2013.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

In recent years, Prince, Tom Petty, Mac Miller and Michael K. Williams all died of fentanyl overdoses, with the drug making its way into small towns and big cities alike.

To stay safe, experts recommend using fentanyl testing strips to detect the drug in other substances. The strips are available at health centers free of charge, and can quickly determine the presence of fentanyl using a small amount of the substance being tested, PEOPLE previously reported.

Dr. Traci Green, professor and director of the Opioid Policy Research Collective at Brandeis University, told PEOPLE that naloxone — the drug used to revive patients in Connecticut — is also key to helping prevent fentanyl overdose deaths.

"Thankfully, fentanyl responds really well to naloxone, or Narcan," Green said. "That means that if Narcan is available and in the hands of people at that party, or at the housing structure or wherever, we'd have more opportunities for a quicker response."

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

Related Articles