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Warning About Marijuana Laced With Meth & Fentanyl Issued In North Dakota

By Paul Gaita 07/18/16

Authorities issued the warning after a Bismarck man landed in the emergency room after reportedly smoking laced marijuana. 

Warning About Marijuana Laced With Meth & Fentanyl Issued In North Dakota

Concerns about the increased presence of heroin and fentanyl in the capital city of Bismarck, North Dakota were elevated after police issued a warning to residents that marijuana sold in the area may be laced with fentanyl and meth. The alert was raised last week after a hospital emergency room in Bismarck admitted a man who felt sick after smoking marijuana. The individual tested positive for marijuana, methamphetamine and fentanyl, which concerns police about the possibility of more such cases. “Marijuana is probably more wide-spread used than heroin is, so if people are going to be accidentally ingesting fentanyl, a very low level of fentanyl can be lethal, you know at very low dosages, so that's pretty dangerous business," Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena told Valley News Live. “A very low level of fentanyl can be lethal.”

A recent decrease in the street price of heroin in Bismarck, combined with a rise in the availability of fentanyl, has made the synthetic opiate more easy to obtain, but the emergency room admission appears to be the first time the drug has been bundled with marijuana in the city, and no reports of fentanyl laced with marijuana were issued by police in the Fargo-Moorhead area. “It’s not very common,” said Brandon Muhs, a medical marijuana proponent, though similar such combinations have been reported in British Columbia, Canada in 2015. Its relatively low profile in Bismarck is possibly due to its unpredictable nature. “[Fentanyl] doesn’t change or intensify anything with the cannabis,” Muhs noted. “It will be a different high or different affect.”

The North Dakota drug problem has come to dominate police time and efforts; of 20 search warrants filed in Cass County (the most populous county in the state) in late June, nearly all were for drug-related crimes that required criminal informants, controlled buys and K-9 units with drug-sniffing dogs. Drug issues have also spiked other crimes in the region, according to Fargo Police Deputy Chief Joe Anderson. “The drug problem is creating a lot of our property crimes we’re seeing within the city,” he told Valley News Live in June. One warrant referenced a report made to the Fargo North High School Resource Officer about a pair of students who were suspected of dealing fentanyl to other students by using Smart Water plastic bottles.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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