Fall River sees five opioid overdoses from laced pot

Public safety officials in Fall River are urging the public not to buy marijuana off the street, not only because it is illegal, but now there’s a heightened risk that it could be laced with the deadly opioid fentanyl.

In just the last three months, the city has seen five overdoses because of the toxic pot. 

Despite marijuana becoming legal in Massachusetts, members of the city’s opioid task force said people are still getting it off the street because of a lower price.

But after a warning from the federal government, public safety officials are now on the look out for a substance that at first glance looks like marijuana, when in fact it’s pretty much straight fentanyl.

“We’re not dealing with just straight opiates anymore,” said Deb Faunce, Deputy Director of EMS for the Fall River Fire Department, and member of the task force. “Everything has been laced with fentanyl.”

Faunce is urging everyone who uses marijuana to purchase it at a dispensary where you know it will not be contaminated.

“When you buy it in a dispensary, it is truly regulated,” she said. “But when you’re buying it from someone who is dealing drugs on the streets, then it is not regulated, so therefore, you have the potential of it being laced.”

But the attention now is turning to if these overdoses are a result of laced pot, or the deadly substance that could kill unsuspecting marijuana users.

“A type of fentanyl that looks exactly like marijuana but its not testing positive at all for THC. It’s testing positive for fentanyl and benzos,” said Nichole Fontaine, senior opioid administrator for the task force. “It opens it up to a much broader range of people.”

In 2019, there have been 400 cases of opioid overdoses in Fall River, with 24 confirmed deaths.