District attorney: Marijuana laced with fentanyl is in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Tennessee District Attorney is offering a warning about a new, deadly mix of drugs – marijuana mixed with fentanyl.

DA Matthew Stowe told News 2 the drug is here in Tennessee and he can’t warn people fast enough.

“It’s absolutely being seen in Tennessee. It’s being seen in West Tennessee, it’s coming in in vast, vast quantities,” he said.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid used in medical settings to treat chronic pain. On the street, it takes just a small amount for someone to overdose within minutes.

“It is very easy to move,” Stowe said. “It is very easy to transport and it’s hard to detect.”

He continued, “There are some marijuana dealers that will tell their clients that I have no doubt there is fentanyl in it and some of the more addictive folks, especially folks that also use other drugs, will get that marijuana laced with fentanyl in hopes of getting a better high.”

The district attorney told News 2 there is no way for someone on the street to know if the marijuana is laced.

“The bottom line is, anyone, anywhere could mix fentanyl and marijuana and there’s no way of knowing it until it’s too late,” Stowe warned.

Lt. Clay Hammac, Commander with the Shelby County Drug Task Force, said it’s a disturbing trend because such a small amount fentanyl can be deadly, even to the touch. He used a packet of artificial sweetener to illustrate his point. There’s about a gram of powder in the packet.

“Just a small amount in the hand right there is more than enough to be a fatal dose of fentanyl. But if we were to empty the entire contents of this sweetener packet into our hand, one gram arguably is enough to wipe out half a gymnasium if not more of individuals with fatal doses of fentanyl.”

It’s even changed the way narcotics investigators are responding to calls in Shelby County.

“We spent the summer sending our investigators to Level A Hazmat schools to become certified, not just to respond but also to handle and package this evidence,” said Hammac.

Since fentanyl is so powerful, Stowe said that marijuana laced with it could kill more than just the user.

“Marijuana laced with fentanyl can be extremely deadly and to anyone who touches it, taste it, smokes it [or] anything else of that nature,” he explained. “If it’s laced with fentanyl, marijuana can be the deadliest drug there is.”

Stowe said agents have recovered the deadly mix of drugs from busts throughout Tennessee.

“I wanted to get an alert out right away,” Stowe said. “I didn’t want the community to have their first notice that we have this problem be someone’s child in the morgue.”

He continued, “Parents just need to know how deadly this is. Someone with marijuana laced with fentanyl could light up that joint, and not only would they be dead, but everyone who’s been around it inhaling the smoke could be dead as well in a matter of minutes.”

The dangerous mix of drugs has also caught the attention of the Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security. The office confirmed fentanyl laced with marijuana is a concerning trend it’s starting to see.

News 2 also reached out to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  The agency said so far, no cases of marijuana mixed with fentanyl have been found.

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