NEWS
Viral Social Media Story About Teens Overdosing on Fentanyl-Laced Weed Is Fake News
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A local district attorney's office shared a viral social media story about teens overdosing on legal weed laced with fentanyl, but the story proved to be fake news.
Published on December 13, 2021

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For the second time in two months, Massachusetts officials have issued statements warning parents and teens to watch out for cannabis laced with fentanyl

The most recent scare was prompted by a viral social media story claiming that two Springfield high school students overdosed on fentanyl-laced weed. According to the story, the teens were admitted to Baystate Medical Center in Western Massachusetts after smoking weed that they acquired from a legal, adult-use dispensary. Hospital staff reportedly discovered that the teens had overdosed on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

The viral story, which claimed to be from “The Baystate Emergency Room,” said that “it took 8 hits of Narcan to revive one of the unconscious youth,” MassLive reports. After the story gained traction on social media, several concerned parents forwarded it to the office of Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni. The DA's office then forwarded the story to local police and school district officials, who began circulating warnings about contaminated legal weed. 

The original story shared screenshots of a legit-looking email that included real email addresses from Bay Path University staff and the Hampden DA’s office. ”Heads up. This morning this came to my work email and the work email of every school nurse in MA,” a staff member at a local school wrote on Facebook, according to MassLive. “Baystate ER and Hamden (sic) County DA not prone to exaggeration or over reaction.”

But as often is the case with cannabis-related scares, this story turned out to be completely fake. Officials from Bayside Health told the press that they did not treat anyone for overdosing on fentanyl-laced weed, nor did they issue any statement claiming that they did so. The state Cannabis Control Commission still plans to work with local police to investigate the veracity of the story, however.

As the opioid crisis continues to spread, stories about fentanyl-laced weed have become increasingly common. Back in 2015, a bogus Vancouver police report claimed that Canadian cops found pot laced with this deadly opioid, but the cops eventually admitted that this was a lie. New York City cops also made a similar claim, but again later admitted it was untrue. In 2019, the Trump administration issued unfounded warnings about deadly dosed weed, largely based on these incorrect statements. 

Just last month, Massachusetts and Connecticut officials released another warning about fentanyl-laced cannabis. This time, a Connecticut state lab testing facility reportedly confirmed that fentanyl was actually present in a sample of black market weed. A similar investigation was conducted in Vermont after another batch of supposed weed-related opioid overdoses, but DEA investigators found that the suspect weed did not test positive for fentanyl.

So far, the vast majority of reports regarding fentanyl-contaminated weed have turned out to be fake, but to be on the safe side, authorities are urging cannabis users to stick to quality-tested weed purchased from legal adult-use dispensaries.

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Chris Moore
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Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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