Another alleged case of fentanyl-laced cannabis in Connecticut has gone up in smoke.
In this case, the false alarm came out of Connecticut, where an investigation has revealed that “nearly 40 Connecticut overdoses [that] were possibly linked to fentanyl-laced marijuana—sparking widespread attention and concern—turned out to be one confirmed case and was probably caused by accidental contamination,” according to a story by CT Insider.
That marks a major walk back from a bulletin in November issued by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, which said that it had “recently received reports of overdose patients who have exhibited opioid overdose symptoms and required naloxone for revival,” and that the “patients denied any opioid use and claimed to have only smoked marijuana.”
That press release detailed a total of 39 overdoses in the state between July and November of last year. In one such incident that took place in October, police in Plymouth, Connecticut were said to have responded to one overdose scene where they secured a sample of cannabis that later tested positive for fentanyl.
“This is the first lab-confirmed case of marijuana with fentanyl in Connecticut and possibly the first confirmed case in the United States,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani.
Now, the department is acknowledging that it overstated the extent of the problem in its initial reaction.
According to CT Insider, Chris Boyle, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, said that at least 30 of the 39 documented overdose cases involved individuals with a history of opioid use. The website reported that the “the Plymouth sample was the only one that has tested positive for fentanyl,” and that the “state reviewed all marijuana samples submitted to the state Division of Scientific Services Lab from July 1 to Nov. 30 and found no other cannabis submissions that contained fentanyl.”
Boyle said that it’s believed that the contamination occurred when the dealer “failed to clean their instruments before processing the marijuana and cross-contaminated it with fentanyl.”
“Based on the information gathered since the positive confirmation of marijuana with fentanyl, the CT ORS [Connecticut Overdose Response Strategy] assesses that the positive confirmation of marijuana with fentanyl was likely accidental contamination and an isolated incident,” Boyle wrote in an email, as quoted by CT Insider.
“Anything bought off the street, including cannabis, has the potential to contain other substances, one of those being fentanyl,” Boyle continued. “CT DPH has documented evidence, from not just the State Police Forensics Lab, but from the DEA lab as verification of the seized drug sample, that cannabis was contaminated with fentanyl.”
The findings are the latest splash of cold water on a mania that erupted late last year regarding this very same issue.
Reports of fentanyl-laced cannabis emerged out of Vermont in November, with local news outlets causing nationwide hysteria over reports of the spiked weed being found in Brattleboro, Vermont.
But the following month, police in Brattleboro said that the seized cannabis “was submitted to a forensic laboratory where testing was conducted” and that the department “was notified no fentanyl was found in the marijuana in either case.”
“BPD stands by its previous public safety advisory that it is wise for consumers of marijuana to know the source and history of any marijuana they ingest,” the Brattleboro Police Department said in a statement at the time.
The erroneous reports have left cannabis advocates frustrated.
“Despite this claim receiving prominent headlines over the past several years, there exist few, if any, confirmed cases of these claims being substantiated,” Paul Armentano, deputy director at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told CT Insider.