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Laced Cannabis

What Is Laced Cannabis and How to Avoid It

  • “Laced” products have been contaminated with unexpected (and sometimes unknown) substances. These can range from benign compounds (like baby powder) to highly potent and addictive chemicals (like opioids).
  • The simplest way to avoid laced cannabis is to avoid the black market and purchase marijuana via legal means.

Stories about laced marijuana have been rampant in the media for generations. While there are certainly real safety concerns associated with using cannabis purchased on the black market, how worried should medical marijuana patients really be about lacing?

In this guide, we’re setting the record straight about laced cannabis—marijuana that’s been contaminated with other substances. We’ll explain how to avoid it, how to identify it, and what to do if you accidentally use it.

At the end of the day, the simplest way to avoid laced marijuana is to purchase cannabis via a legal dispensary. Since dispensary products are lab-tested, labeled, and regulated, they’re consistent and undeniably safe for patients and recreational users alike.

What Does It Mean to “Lace” Cannabis?

“Laced” is a widely used slang term used to describe a substance that’s been contaminated. Laced compounds:

  • Include the substance they’re advertised to be.
  • Include foreign substances that aren’t normally found in combination with the primary substance

So, laced weed (or laced marijuana-based products like edibles or vape cartridges) would include both marijuana compounds and additional substances.

These additional substances can range from benign to hazardous. Cocaine, for instance, can be laced (or “cut,” to use another slang term) with baby powder to increase product weight (which typically correlates with price in black market sales).

However, cocaine can also be cut with compounds like fentanyl—a widely used opioid in healthcare settings that, when imprecisely administered, can lead to overdose.

Is Cannabis Commonly Laced with Fentanyl?

Speaking of fentanyl, you might be wondering if this hot-button opioid is ever used to lace marijuana. Here are the facts:

  • Marijuana sold in dispensaries is not laced – While we’ll discuss this in more detail in a later section, the safety of marijuana products sold in dispensaries is not up for debate. These products are lab-tested, labeled, highly regulated, and safe.
  • Fentanyl is highly unlikely to be used to lace cannabis – Medical experts have questions about the viability of combining fentanyl with marijuana. Many have stated that it’s not only highly impractical to lace cannabis products with fentanyl from a chemistry standpoint, but it’s also unlikely to produce effects because each substance has a unique burn temperature.
  • Reports of fentanyl-laced marijuana are highly sensationalized and often factually inaccurate – Public officials often use fentanyl-laced cannabis as a rhetorical talking point to support anti-marijuana legislation or block legalization efforts. However, the DEA has yet to confirm that they’ve ever tested a sample of cannabis contaminated with fentanyl.

With all of this in mind, people using black market cannabis should be on the lookout for substances that are used to lace marijuana, including:

  • Bacteria or fungus
  • PCP
  • Ketamine
  • Cocaine

Why Would Black Market Dealers Lace Marijuana?

We know what you’re thinking: “Why would black market cannabis dealers lace marijuana with harmful (or even potentially fatal) substances? Wouldn’t this hurt the customers they rely on?”

You’ll find one of the most nuanced conversations about this topic on two episodes of Search Engine, a research-forward podcast produced by Gimlet Media.

In conversations with drug researchers and even black market dealers themselves, the Search Engine team reveals that lacing accomplishes two key goals for dealers:

  1. Laced drugs produce unique effects for users. So, users will stay loyal to one black market dealer to pursue these unique effects consistently.
  2. Lacing drugs—even drugs with very low dependence potential, like cannabis—can make them more addictive. Addiction keeps black market customers coming back for more.

This is why relying on the black market for cannabis is inadvisable for people looking to reap the many healing effects of marijuana: black market cannabis simply isn’t as safe as dispensary-grade products.

Avoiding Laced Cannabis via Legal Purchase

How can users access legal, dispensary-grade cannabis and say goodbye to the black market for good? Why should they?

Let’s explore the process and implications of pursuing a medical marijuana card.

How to Purchase Weed Legally

If you’re looking to buy legal weed in Louisiana (or any other state offering medical access to cannabis), the process is relatively simple:

  • Make an appointment with a cannabis-informed provider – While every medical cannabis patient must receive a recommendation from a provider to apply for a medical marijuana card, regulations vary by state. In Louisiana, any licensed provider can recommend medical marijuana. Patients may find it more helpful to choose a provider who is knowledgeable about the medical benefits of cannabis.
  • Complete an application – Once you have a recommendation from a healthcare provider, you can use this recommendation to apply for a medical marijuana card from your state’s relevant agency. Once your application is approved, your state may mail you a physical card, send you a digital card, or enter your name in a state registry (Louisiana uses the registry system).
  • Use your medical marijuana card at a dispensary – Once you have a card (or your registry is complete), you can head to a dispensary to purchase medical cannabis products.

A frequently asked question about this process is, “Can I get a medical marijuana card online?” In many cases, yes, and TeleLeaf is here to help—we connect patients with cannabis-informed providers and help them navigate the medical card process with ease.

Understanding Quality Control

It might seem a lot more labor-intensive to purchase marijuana via legal means instead of taking your chances with the black market. However, one of the most attractive features of the legalized marijuana system is safety: marijuana purchased in dispensaries is not laced.

Careful, meticulous, and heavily documented quality control processes form the foundation of the legal dispensary market. This means dispensary-grade products are:

  1. Lab-tested – To confirm cannabinoid and terpene concentrations and ensure that products aren’t contaminated (with pollutants, lab reagents, or any other compounds), marijuana products sold in a dispensary are rigorously lab-tested by both manufacturers and state regulators.
  2. Labeled – While label requirements vary by state, dispensary marijuana products are precisely labeled with information about cannabinoid concentration, nutrition facts, strain, dosage recommendations, and more. Label information is sourced from lab testing results.
  3. Regulated – Dispensary products are monitored and regulated by state agencies and other professional organizations to ensure public health, legal compliance, purity, and safety.

Simply put, safety is reason enough to ditch the black market for dispensary-grade products in states with medical marijuana programs.

Identifying Laced Cannabis and Responding to Accidental Ingestion

Can you identify laced cannabis with the naked eye? Unfortunately, not always. But harm reduction experts recommend two key strategies for identifying laced drugs purchased on the black market:

  1. Sensory assessment – Does your product look, smell, and feel normal? Are the colors, smells, and textures consistent with products you’ve used in the past without issue? If the answer is no, you may have cause for concern.
  2. Testing – While sensory assessment is a reasonable first step, it’s not guaranteed to help users identify contaminated substances. Fortunately, testing kits for a wide variety of substances (including fentanyl) are available for purchase online. Some state and local health departments and non-profit organizations even offer them at no or low cost.

If you think that you’ve ingested laced drugs, seek emergency medical attention right away. Once you’re in the care of emergency providers, be honest about what you’ve ingested, your symptoms, and your concerns.

Once you’ve recovered from any health incidents related to laced products, reach out to a trusted healthcare provider to ask about testing options. Testing a sample of the substance you used can help you learn more about what you ingested and contribute to harm reduction efforts in your area.

TeleLeaf: Connecting Patients with Legal Medical Cannabis

If you’re still purchasing cannabis on the black market, laced marijuana should be on your radar. Fortunately, testing black market products is one surefire way to keep yourself safe until you can start purchasing from legal dispensaries.

Ready to start your medical cannabis journey? TeleLeaf can help. As the best online medical marijuana card service providers on the scene today, we’re committed to providing patients with a seamless, accessible path to healing.

Make an appointment to discover the healing power of cannabis today.


Sources:

Sunrise House Treatment Center. What Kinds of Cutting Agents Are Used in Drug Manufacturing?.
https://sunrisehouse.com/addiction-info/cutting-agents-drug-manufacturing/

University of Cincinnati. Yahoo News: Ohio health expert challenges governor’s warning on fentanyl-laced marijuana.
https://www.uc.edu/news/articles/2023/12/yahoo-news–ohio-doctor-challenges-governors-warning-on-fentanyl-laced-marijuana.html

NORML. Claims of ‘Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis’ Are Common, But Are They Accurate?.
https://norml.org/blog/2022/10/04/norml-op-ed-claims-of-fentanyl-laced-cannabis-are-common-but-are-they-accurate/

American Addiction Centers. What Can Marijuana Be Laced With?.
https://americanaddictioncenters.org/marijuana-rehab/what-can-marijuana-be-laced-with

Gimlet Media. Why Are Drug Dealers Putting Fentanyl In Everything?.
https://gimletmedia.com/shows/reply-all/llhev5xe

Louisiana Department of Health. Medical Marijuana Regulation.
https://ldh.la.gov/page/medical-marijuana

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fentanyl Test Strips: A Harm Reduction Strategy.
https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/fentanyl/fentanyl-test-strips.html

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