London

Should pot users carry Naloxone? London's medical health officer says yes

After the urine of several people who smoke pot tested positive for fentanyl this summer, the medical officer of health suggests all drug users carry Naloxone kits.

The urine of people who say they've only used pot has tested positive for fentanyl, health officials warn

Health unit officials warn some urine of people who only said they'd used pot or heroin tested positive for the powerful opioid fentanyl in July. (CBC)

Pot users should carry Naloxone kits in case their marijuana is laced with fentanyl, Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Chris Mackie says. 

Mackie issued the warning after fentanyl was found in the urine of heroin and marijuana users who were being screened at the Addiction Services Thames Valley Suboxone Clinic in July, health officials said. 

But one man who tested positive for fentanyl at that clinic last week tells CBC News he's never used the drug, and he didn't test positive for marijuana, either. 

"In my case, I've had easily half a dozen false positives," said David Cowen, a patient of the Suboxone clinic where people tested positive for fentanyl.

"They say it's probably in your marijuana, or they think you're actually using the drug. I've never used that in my life, and I also don't smoke marijuana, so I know it's wrong." 

Mackie said people often misrepresent what they take. The drug lab, at St. Joe's, is very reputable, he said. 

But Cowen said it's wrong for health officials to cause panic about pot, a drug half of Canadians say they've used at some point in their lives. 

"It's very inflammatory. It's not logical for someone to be lacing very expensive [fentanyl in] pot. It's just inflammatory and it's not true. It's going to make parents very worried," Cowen said. "I don't have a bone to pick. It just kind of blows me away.

'A very disturbing finding'

But Mackie said parents should be worried — as should casual drug users. 

"It's a very disturbing finding because a whole new subset of people who are using drugs could be exposed to a very dangerous chemical," Mackie said.  

"We have multiple people who are saying this is happening." 

It's unknown if the fentanyl was found in pot that was smoked or eaten. 

Suboxone is a drug therapy for recovering opioid addicts. The Suboxone clinic's Dr. Ken Lee said it looks like dealers are adding fentanyl to other drugs. 

And Mackie told CBC's London Morning he's worried that the laced drugs could seriously harm someone who is not expecting it.

"This is very, very concerning. A whole new level of drug user, people who are not hardcore users, are not experiences with fentanyl or opioids at all are going to be exposed. I'm really worried that some young person who thinks they're just experimenting is gong to end up taking an overdose of something that kills them." 

Unless someone is growing pot themselves, they don't know what's in it, Mackie warned. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.