Here we go again, folks. It happens on a sadly regular and predictable basis. Law enforcement in some benighted town or other claim they’ve detected fentanyl in marijuana. They allege folks have overdosed on the powerful opioid by just smoking pot. The story gets feverish nationwide coverage and lurid headlines. And then the tests, once again, turn out to be inaccurate. But that gets much, much less coverage than the original, sensational, inaccurate scare story.
Police now admit the field tests they claim returned positive results for fentanyl while testing Cannabis last month were inaccurate. They now cite “new, more complete forensic laboratory results,” reports My NBC5.
After Brattleboro, Vermont police warned the public of supposedly fentanyl-laced marijuana late last month, forensic lab tests found no fentanyl in weed tested after two separate incidents, officials said Thursday.
Federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration seized the Cannabis samples, according to the Brattleboro Police Department. Tests found no trace of the powerful opioid.
Tests detected no fentanyl was in either batch of weed, DEA spokesman Asa Morse told The Sentinel on Thursday morning.
Person Who OD’d On Fentanyl Claims They Were Smoking Weed
The first case was on Nov. 21, when someone who claimed they had only smoked marijuana had to be revived from an overdose, according to police. The cops then claimed that a field test showed fentanyl in the person’s remaining marijuana.
Original field testing followed an emergency response to a fentanyl overdose in Brattleboro on Nov. 20. Officers administered the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, sometimes called Narcan, to a “person who denied using any opioids.”
The person lied their ass off to authorities. They claimed they had only smoked marijuana, so the weed was tested.
About 10 days later, Brattleboro police reported three people were arrested following the execution of a search warrant, where marijuana — supposedly containing fentanyl — was seized.
News of the supposed positive result prompted an outpouring of hysteria, advice and concern from state health officials and some community members. Adults 21 and older are legally allowed to possess up to one ounce of Cannabis in Vermont.
Police Backtrack In A Lost And Lame Manner
The Brattleboro Police Department released a statement Thursday in which it managed to backtrack, but only in a deeply lame manner. The department said it “stands by its previous public safety advisory” that anyone using marijuana should understand where it came from. The agency did not (of course!) comment on the frequent inaccuracy of field tests being used by officers.
In 2016, a joint report from journalists at ProPublica and The New York Times found evidence that field tests routinely produced false positive results. The report noted that test results can be affected by a number of variables, including sunlight, temperature or user error.
Police in Brattleboro have not specified what might have caused the false positive result to occur when issuing the inaccurate field test last month.
NBC5 News reported that police alleged the marijuana sample was found to contain fentanyl in a field test. But in a stunning lapse in professional standards, the outlet failed to report potential inaccuracies of commonly-used field tests.
Brattleboro Police So Embarrassed… They Won’t Test Weed For Fentanyl Ever EVER Again
Brattleboro Police Capt. Mark Carignan told The Sentinel Thursday that the department won’t be conducting field tests on Cannabis anymore — aside for THC, the main consciousness-altering component found in the non-addictive herb.
Last month, he said that field test kits are presumptive and do not “conclusively indicate beyond a reasonable doubt that [a certain drug] is present.”
“Field test kits rely on a simple chemical reaction to indicate if the suspected drug is present,” Carignan said in a Nov. 26 email. “It is not as accurate as a forensic lab test, and is not admissible in a criminal trial.”