The world of politics these days reminds me of a reality T.V. show at times, and I’m not just talking about the media circus and outlandish claims and statements made by United States politicians recently. As if to prove my point, the British Columbia Premier (like a state governor in the U.S.), one Christy Clark, made a false claim about fentanyl-laced marijuana in a recent press conference on the opioid crisis in the Canadian province. Granted, she had good intentions in meeting with Canada’s federal officials about the opioid health crisis that is sweeping the planet, but her fact-checking person must have been out sick that day.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller that is 5o to 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s highly addictive, and prescribed in such pharmaceuticals as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®. Fentanyl is usually prescribed for severe pain or the pain following surgery. Heroin can be laced with fentanyl, and street names for fentanyl include Apache, China Girl, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Since opioid receptors in the brain also control the breathing rate, fentanyl in high doses can make a person stop breathing and die. There’s a multitude of abuse and drug mixing possibilities with fentanyl, and the recent drug overdose of superstar Prince in the United States has catapulted the opioid addiction and death rate problems in North America into the world spotlight.

British Columbia’s Opioid Drug Problem

We know the United States has an opioid abuse epidemic, and news and media sources have been reporting on it almost as much as they have been reporting on the marijuana industry lately. On an average day in the United States, about 78 people die from an opioid-related drug overdose. So far in 2016, 622 people died from drug overdoses in the British Columbia province alone, and they declared a public health emergency in April of 2016.

Premier Christy Clark’s False Marijuana-Fentanyl Comments

While its unclear why BC.’s Premier Clark believed that fentanyl-laced marijuana was actually an issue anywhere, it is clear that she should have done more fact-checking before making such a statement in front of the press in a federal meeting on drug addiction. The Premier stated that police in British Columbia had were finding traces of fentanyl in heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, saying “I think regulating marijuana is even more important now when we’re finding fentanyl in marijuana.”

The Truth of the Matter

*Sigh*. Must we go through this again? Please check your facts, politicians and media – don’t be lazy. The truth is, marijuana can be laced with fentanyl, but it’s much more likely to be incorporated into a powder or liquid drug like methamphetamine, heroin, or cocaine. Cases have been reported across the United States and Canada, but in this particular case, the Premier was wrong. Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague said her claim about fentanyl-laced marijuana was not based in fact, but instead in rumor, and “has never actually been proven to be true.” Montague also said that “The VPD [Vancouver Police Department] has not seized marijuana that has been tested and shown to be laced with fentanyl” and that “this is a constant battle to try and keep this information accurate.” I hear you, Constable Montague, I hear you. Public Safety Minister of B.C., Mike Morris, defended the Premier’s false claim based on some reports that marijuana may have been laced with fentanyl – despite the fact that there is no hard evidence in the form of tested, seized marijuana. While law enforcement officials in Canada figure this out, make sure you get your legal weed from a reputable source at your local dispensary – they’re required to test their cannabis.