Law enforcement in Summit County, Utah recently arrested a 25-year-old man after he was discovered in possession of fentanyl-laced marijuana. The man claimed to not be a drug dealer, but evidence found in his home suggests otherwise. As he waits possible criminal charges, here’s hoping that fentanyl-laced marijuana doesn’t become a thing.
Utah law is very strict about cannabis in general. State residents and visitors are not allowed to possess marijuana unless they are patients with valid medical cannabis cards. Furthermore, all medical cannabis products consumed in the state must be purchased from a licensed medical cannabis pharmacy, like Provo’s Deseret Wellness. Just those requirements alone were enough to get the suspect in trouble.
However, the suspect would probably have continued flying under the radar had one of his customers not complained about an adverse health reaction to his marijuana. That complaint led to a test that revealed the marijuana was laced with fentanyl. It was only a matter of time until the suspect was arrested.
Marijuana’s Recreational Side
The Utah incident is a stark reminder of the realities of marijuana’s recreational side. On its own, marijuana has been proven to be relatively benign for an intoxicating drug. It is not nearly as addictive as so many other drugs, and users don’t seem to suffer from the same dramatic side effects that ruin the health of other types of drug users. And yet, the mere fact that people choose to use drugs recreationally opens the door to trouble.
No one should be surprised to learn that a drug dealer might mix marijuana with fentanyl. That is the recreational mindset. Recreational drug users are looking for the ultimate high. Even users who stick strictly with cannabis always seem to be looking for a better product. They want a better strain that offers a better experience.
This is the one aspect of recreational marijuana our culture doesn’t want to talk about. We do not want to discuss why people use recreational drugs or why they want to chase the ultimate high. But such reluctance is not new. We have avoided having the same discussion about alcohol since the end of prohibition.
A Better Choice Than Opioids
The idea of mixing marijuana with fentanyl is somewhat frightening at a time and history when we are still battling a severe opioid crisis. Granted, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that medical cannabis is a better choice for managing pain than prescription opioids. Plenty of former opioid patients have told stories about how medical cannabis got them off their prescription pain pills.
If that is happening to a large degree, there is no reason to stop recommending medical cannabis over prescription opioids. In fact, Utah just added acute pain to its qualifying conditions list in hopes of giving patients an alternative to opioid painkillers. But all of this is a far cry from lacing recreational marijuana with fentanyl.
It’s Not Completely Harmless
The danger our current culture is up against is one of falsely believing that marijuana is completely harmless. No substance human beings ingest is completely risk free. Even water can be dangerous to human health if too much is consumed in too short a time. Doing so can lead to a dangerous condition known as water toxemia.
You can make the case that marijuana is not as dangerous as other drugs. But that does not make it completely risk-free. The fact that someone would mix marijuana with fentanyl is proof that some of the danger of the drug is the result of intentional human action. Let us hope fentanyl-laced marijuana doesn’t become a thing.