With rapidly changing legalization laws across the country, cannabis has become more popular and more accessible than ever before, but there are still people who are buying their weed the old-fashioned way. Black market weed, however, can contain contaminants like fentanyl, because they don’t have to go through a rigorous testing process.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have been working to combat the illegal market of synthetic marijuana products, but despite best efforts different entities continue to produce and distribute these products, according to a statement from the FDA.
According to the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, contaminants can range from mold to e coli, to pesticides to heavy metals to toxic substances such as fentanyl. With an unregulated product, consumers can never be sure what they will be getting.
“Sometimes I am scared that I am sacrificing my safety for the bargain,” journalism senior Olivia, who wishes to keep her last name anonymous to protect her professional identity, said. “In a perfect world I would like to be buying my stuff from a dispensary, but the bottom line is that I cannot afford it. We are college students. What did they expect, that money is spilling out of our pockets?”
All of these contaminants can be extremely harmful when ingested, inhaled or applied to the body, especially fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, according to Cal Poly professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Scott Eagon.
“It was designed and created by people, so it is not found in nature,” he said. “It is a very simple molecule to make.”
This compound triggers the pleasure centers of the brain and acts similar to opium, heroin or oxycodone, Eagon said. However, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than any