Thunder Bay

No documented Canadian cases of cannabis laced with opioids: Ontario Harm Reduction Network

Despite the discovery of a "product resembling cannabis" that was actually carfentanil, there are no documented cases of opioids being found in marijuana in Canada, according to the Ontario Harm Reduction Network (OHRN).
There are no documented, lab-confirmed cases of cannabis containing opioids being found in Canada, the Ontario Harm Reduction Network said. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

Despite the discovery of a "product resembling cannabis" that was actually carfentanil, there are no documented cases of opioids being found in marijuana in Canada, according to the Ontario Harm Reduction Network (OHRN).

Some public health organizations and police forces have issued the warnings after the substance — which, despite looking like cannabis from a distance, actually contains no marijuana — was discovered in southern Ontario.

However, Thunder Bay Drug Strategy coodinator Cynthia Olsen said the OHRN has issued a statement about the substance out of concern that the warnings are giving the impression that cannabis containing opioids has been found in Canada.

That has not been the case, Olsen said.

"The messaging isn't that cannabis is being laced or cut [with opioids], or that there's a toxic supply of cannabis," she said. "It's clear that the substance isn't cannabis."

The substance, which has been found in Tecumseh, as well as in the United States, may resemble cannabis when viewed from a distance, or via photos, Olsen said.

However, according to the OHRN, when seen in-person, it's easy to tell the substance isn't actually cannabis.

"It actually had no resemblance to cannabis ... by its weight, or by its scent, or by its texture," Olsen said. "There was no indication that that substance was being marketed or sold as cannabis."

"People aren't going out and saying 'here, buy some cannabis,' and it's clearly not," she said.

No deliberate mixing of opioids, cannabis

Olsen said there's the potential for cross-contamination in cannabis, depending on where it's been purchased.

For example, she said, if cannabis is weighed on a scale that was also used to weigh opioids, and wasn't cleaned properly, cross-contamination is a possibility.

Olsen recommended people purchase cannabis through legal, and regulated, markets.

"It's not being deliberately changed or laced or cut with fentanyl or carfentanil," Olsen said. "That, I think, is some of the important messaging."

The OHRN said in an information sheet that "it makes no sense" financially for dealers to cut cannabis, which carries a low profit margin, with opioids, which carry a high profit margin.

In addition, it would be "almost impossible" to add opioids to cannabis in amounts needed to create a physical dependency in users without causing an overdose, the OHRN said.

Both Olsen and Thunder Bay police said there are no documented cases of the cannabis-like substance being found in Thunder Bay.

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