CINCINNATI, Ohio (CBS) — Synthetic opiates like fentanyl have been found in marijuana, an Ohio coroner said Monday.
Fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, has been attributed to the increasing number of fatal drug overdoses across the U.S. The drug has been found in other drugs across the country, most notably in Ohio.
“We have seen fentanyl mixed with cocaine. We have also seen fentanyl mixed with marijuana,” said Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco during a joint press conference with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
About 300 deaths have already been attributed to suspected opioid overdoses in Hamilton County this year, compared to 403 confirmed deaths throughout 2016, Sammarco said.
But the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office has yet to report any deaths related to fentanyl-laced marijuana.
It is nearly impossible to determine which drugs are laced with a synthetic opiate, Sammarco said.
“Essentially, the message we’ve tried to get out there is if you are using any form of street drugs, count on them having some form of synthetic opioid mixed in,” she said.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Melvin Patterson said the agency has not confirmed the existence of fentanyl in marijuana.
“In regard to marijuana, I’m not familiar with that,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “There could be.”
The Ohio coroner’s office in Montgomery County previously ran out of space for dead bodies twice this year due to the opioid epidemic.
A record 3,050 Ohio residents died from fatal drug overdoses last year — most of which were caused by using heroin or painkillers.