There’s been a flood of sensationalized stories over the last few years, all describing a huge increase in the amount of fentanyl-laced weed being sold on the street.
Are they true? Apparently not.
But that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Let’s dig a little deeper on the subject of laced weed.
What’s With All Of These Weed/Fentanyl Stories?
Sensational articles quickly go viral, with very little fact-checking. (That’s a nice way of saying most websites repost and/or reword articles with no fact-checking at all.) With the nation’s opioid epidemic still unchecked, headline writers and clickbait seekers are quick to hop on stories with the word “fentanyl” in their headlines.
A few years ago, the fact-checking website Snopes looked into growing claims of fentanyl-laced marijuana and found them to be completely false.  And carefully researched articles continue to find that claims of weed laced with fentanyl almost always turn out to be incorrect. 
Some of those claims appear to be deliberate misstatements by police, some are rumors given credence by elected officials, and some are excuses that users have given after overdoses (“my weed must have been laced!”).
Should you worry about it? Well, WebMD says that despite media reports there’s no huge national crisis; lots of people aren’t dying after smoking cannabis laced with fentanyl. 
But if you buy on the street, there’s always the possibility that an unscrupulous dealer has laced your bud with something — even if it’s probably not fentanyl.
What Does Lacing Weed Mean, And Why Would A Dealer Do It?
In simple terms, laced weed has been adulterated with the addition of some other substance. Marijuana may be laced with another drug, or with something else like oregano, detergent, or even crushed glass.
Dealers who lace weed usually do it to hide their pot’s poor quality. For decades, untrustworthy suppliers have been cutting weed with spices like oregano, or even chopped leaves, in order to add weight to their baggies. They may add laundry detergent to make it look like the flower is mixed with lots of kief, or spray it with diesel fuel to make it smell more dank, or add food coloring to change its color. Worst of all are the occasional dealers who add crushed glass to weed, trying to mimic the appearance of sparkly trichomes.
Weed laced with other drugs is seen much less often. For one thing, many of the drugs dealers might use to do that are more expensive than cannabis, so it wouldn’t make financial sense. For another, many possible adulterants don’t weigh very much, so adding them wouldn’t make business sense for dealers trying to turn an eighth into a quarter. And despite stoner myths, dealers aren’t lacing cannabis with addictive drugs to try to get people hooked.
What is more common is people lacing their own weed. They might sprinkle coke, PCP, or opioids into their bud before rolling or smoking it, or they might dip a joint or blunt into a liquid form of another drug. Both methods can produce different — and potentially dangerous — highs.
Clichés usually become clichés because they’re true. And “better safe than sorry” is a good example. If you’re buying from a dealer and not a dispensary, it only takes a minute or two to inspect your new supply before you enjoy it.
Here’s how to know if your weed is laced.
Clues That You Have Laced Weed
Once you’ve toked up on some laced weed, it’s too late to do much about it. You can often see adulterants in your pot before you light up if you know what to look for.
Start by picking up a bud and rolling it between your fingers. It should be sticky and not grainy; when you squeeze it, most of the trichomes should stick to your fingers instead of falling off. A lot of powder falling from the bud is a warning sign.
When the kief that has come off the weed is on your fingers, look at it closely. It should have a relatively-consistent appearance and color — and it shouldn’t be transparent or pure white. Those colors indicate that you’re looking at something that shouldn’t be there. Also, give it a sniff; if it doesn’t “smell like pot,” it probably isn’t.
Now break the bud in half and look at its color. If food coloring or something else artificial has been added, it will probably only have sunk into the top layer. The color should look relatively uniform throughout, or you may have a problem.
Now it’s time to play scientist.
- If the weed looks shinier than it should and you suspect a substance like glass has been added, take a small piece of the flower and rub it against an old CD or some hard plastic. Glass will scratch it. Pot won’t.
- If you suspect there’s detergent in your weed, put a little of it in some water and give it a stir. If you see bubbles or soap on the water’s surface, you know what that means.
- Think there may be diesel fuel or another chemical in there? Hold a bud over the flame of your lighter; fuel or chemicals will probably spark, pop, flash, or do something very un-weed-like.
That should eliminate most of the common adulterants. But what if there’s still something hiding inside?
How Do You Know If You’ve Smoked Laced Weed?
Generally speaking, the high will be noticeably different.
- If coke, crack, or meth has been mixed into your supply, it’s likely that you’ll feel the tell-tale surge of energy, but your heart will also start racing, your breathing will get shallow, and you may feel agitated or paranoid.
- If you start feeling psychedelic effects, your weed was probably laced with PCP. (Heat breaks down LSD so it can’t be smoked; a so-called “rainbow joint” simply has acid on the tip where you would inhale.)
- If you get much more of a body stone than you would from weed, making your whole body numb, you may have consumed opioids (theoretically, like fentanyl) in your cannabis.
- If you’re woozy and feel drunk, can’t remember what’s happened, or fall into unconsciousness, there may have been roofies mixed into your weed.
What To Do If You’ve Smoked Laced Weed
If the effects are uncomfortable or somewhat concerning, get to a comfortable environment and try to calm down; having a caring friend with you will be invaluable. If you’re feeling sick, try sipping water or herbal tea, nibble on some bread or a banana, or take a shower. If you have to vomit, don’t fight it.
If the issues don’t get better — or if you’re in distress — have someone take you to an emergency room or urgent care center as soon as possible. Don’t worry about being refused treatment or being judged. Medical professionals have an obligation (a legal one, as well as a moral one) to provide treatment and help you get right.
And we probably don’t have to tell you, but we will: once you’ve recovered, find a new supplier.
How To Know If Weed Is Laced? FAQ
Q: What does it mean if weed seems to hit harder than usual? Does that mean it’s laced?
A: Not usually. It probably means you’ve smoked a different strain than you’re used to, you’ve gotten an unusually potent supply, or perhaps you’ve been drinking alcohol at the same time. If you find that you’re babbling a lot more than usual and the initial euphoria seems to grow instead of fade, though, it’s possible the pot has been laced with a stimulant of some type.
Q: If weed seems to taste or smell strange after you light up, is that a sign of it being laced?
A: It could be, but it’s more likely that the flower is moldy. If it tastes and smells metallic, pesticides or herbicides were probably used improperly while it was being grown. The most obvious sign of adulterated weed is a chemical-like flavor or taste.
Q: Is there any type of testing kit you can buy to check for laced weed?
A: No. The only thing you can do is take a home drug test after you’ve had a bad experience, to see what else you may have ingested.