For people who have severe, chronic pain, potent opioids like fentanyl can offer quick relief. But the highly addictive painkiller can also kill the patient or cause dependence. By now, it’s no secret how deadly the opioid epidemic is. Opioids have claimed thousands of lives – if not millions at this point. There were 33,000 overdoses in 2015 alone, according to the CDC. Many medical professionals agree – one of the best ways to heal the damage from opioids is to fully legalize cannabis. Leave it to those with a prohibitionist mindset, though, to twist these facts around and actually try to conflate medical cannabis and fentanyl as equal parts of America’s drug problem.
That’s exactly what Ohio Senator Rob Portman is doing, with help from claims by Cincinnati coroner Dr. Lakishmi Sammarco. “We have seen fentanyl mixed with cocaine, we have also seen fentanyl mixed with marijuana,” Sammarco said in a recent press conference, without offering any evidence or even citing a single case for reference.
While these claims made by Sammarco were bad enough, her reefer-madness fear mongering got worse as she went on. “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,” Sammarco said.
Police in the area told Cincinnati.com that there were zero reported cases of fentanyl laced with cannabis. The lack of evidence was even backed up by a DEA spokesperson when asked about this by reporters.
This was not the first time that Senator Portman made the fentanyl-laced weed claim. Back in March of this year, Portman gave a speech to the senate about the opioid epidemic in his home state and made the same unfounded connection.
“Drug traffickers are lacing other drugs with it. I was told by the DART Task Force in Toledo that they’re actually sprinkling fentanyl in marijuana now, and people are showing up in the emergency room and overdosing on marijuana because it’s sprinkled with fentanyl. It’s more addictive, so the traffickers like it.”
As it turns out, Portman was either uninformed, or making things up. “I personally have not heard it,” Lt. Bobby Chromik of the Toledo DART told MassRoots . “That stuff is usually reported directly to me.”
One might think that after even the police debunk their fenta-herb claims, that they’d change their tune – but that’s not the case. Do these prohibitionists actually believe these lies they’re telling, somehow thinking they have the right approach to heal the opioid epidemic? Or are they motivated by something else, such as the continuation of the drug war? You decide.