What Is Laced Weed and How Can You Tell

What Is Laced Weed and How Can You Tell?

Drug Interactions and Health Risks

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Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs all over the world, especially with its growing legalization. The rise of both recreational and medicinal users has brought the possibility of laced weed – marijuana that’s been contaminated with other substances – to the forefront.

Laced weed is marijuana or cannabis containing another substance. Though laced weed is not as common as street stories would indicate, there is still a risk of contamination with drugs and other hazardous substances – whether intentional or unintentional. It’s important to know what laced weed is, what symptoms it can cause, and how to protect yourself.

What Is Laced Weed?

Laced weed is marijuana or cannabis containing another substance. “Lacing” drugs is a common practice for many illicit substances, including cocaine and heroin.

These drugs are laced with additives to bulk up the amount of the original product and increase the profit margin. In the case of fentanyl-laced drugs, the goal is to increase the potency and alter the psychoactive effects.

There was a reported rare case of diffuse alveolar hemorrhaging resulting from an overdose of marijuana laced with fentanyl, posing a significant public safety concern.[1] But these tainted drugs are usually cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, and other drugs, with one notable exception – marijuana.

Legal, commercial marijuana is subject to regulations for medicinal and recreational purposes, so there are fewer questions regarding the quality and safety vs. illicit sources. Marijuana is less likely to be intentionally laced with other substances, but it can occur.

What Can Weed Be Laced With?

Marijuana can be laced with drugs and other substances, whether intentionally or not. Producers may add psychoactive drugs to produce stronger effects to disguise low-quality weed or to bulk up the product,
Or marijuana can be contaminated when a retail-level seller offers a range of illicit drugs that are laced with other substances, including fentanyl, and the marijuana comes in contact with a contaminated surface.
Here are some common substances that weed may be laced with:

  • PCP

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    Phencyclidine (PCP) is a powerful dissociative hallucinogenic drug that has been found in marijuana for decades.[2] It’s used to produce more intense and varied psychoactive effects, sometimes without the user’s knowledge.
    When it’s known, PCP-laced weed goes by street names like fry, superweed, dusted weed, and wet weed. The effects are highly variable but may include:

    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Aggression
    • Confusion
    • Suicidal behavior
    • Seizures
    • Respiratory issues
    • Increased risk-taking behavior
  • Heroin

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    Though there have been a few reports of heroin-laced marijuana, it’s more likely for someone to deliberately combine heroin and marijuana than to be deliberately contaminated. Heroin is an expensive drug, and there’s simply no financial benefit to lacing marijuana with it.

    That said, combining marijuana and heroin can be extremely dangerous, especially for first-time users. Consuming heroin-laced marijuana can lead to life-threatening symptoms like:

    • Depressed breathing
    • Depressed heart rate
    • Confusion
    • Overdose

    Remember that heroin may be laced with fentanyl, significantly increasing the risk of adverse effects, overdose, and fatality.

  • Cocaine

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    Lacing marijuana with crack cocaine can produce unique psychoactive effects that counteract the sedative effects of marijuana. Typically, this is done deliberately by recreational users, not found at the source.

    Coke-laced weed can produce several unpleasant effects, especially on unsuspecting users, including:

    • Paranoia
    • Hallucinations
    • Seizures
    • Cardiovascular issues
    • Overdose
  • LSD

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    Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), known colloquially as acid, is a potent psychedelic drug that may be added to marijuana. Smoking acid-laced weed generally won’t produce hallucinogenic effects, as LSD is inactivated by heat. However, some people dab the end of a marijuana cigarette in LSD to keep it in contact with their lips and produce hallucinogenic effects.

    Even small doses of LSD can have powerful and potentially dangerous effects, including “bad trips” that involve emotionally upsetting experiences and risk-taking behavior that can lead to injuries or death.

  • Methamphetamine

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    Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that can be used with marijuana to counteract the depressant effects. Methamphetamine-laced weed is uncommon, especially undisclosed to the user, but it can produce extremely dangerous effects like:

    • Confusion
    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Seizures
  • Embalming Fluid

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    Cases of marijuana laced with embalming fluid have been reported since the 1970s, but there’s some confusion around the name. PCP has the street name “embalming fluid,” which led to some producers and users lacing their marijuana with actual embalming fluid – a chemical preservative for tissues that are comprised of formaldehyde, methanol, and other hazardous ingredients.[3]

    Smoking PCP-laced weed can produce powerful psychoactive effects, but smoking weed laced with actual embalming fluid can cause significant damage to the lungs, nasal passages, and brain. In younger people, exposure to embalming fluid can cause severe health issues.

    These two common lacing methods may be combined. Embalming fluid is sometimes used as a solvent to mix PCP into a liquid dip for smoking marijuana, resulting in severe paranoia, hallucinations, and violent actions. This is known as a ‘fry’ and may include codeine-laced cough syrup.

  • Fentanyl

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    As mentioned, fentanyl is rarely intentionally added to marijuana, but marijuana can be laced accidentally. Fentanyl is incredibly potent, even in extremely small doses, so just some dust on buds or laced edibles can be enough to create a dangerous situation.

    The symptoms of fentanyl-laced marijuana include:

    • Clammy skin
    • Slowed heart rate
    • Seizures
    • Severe drowsiness

    If you or a loved one experience any of these laced-weed effects or suspect your marijuana may be laced, seek medical attention. Marijuana laced with certain drugs can be a fatal combination, especially for someone who isn’t used to taking the drug.

How to Tell If Weed Is Laced

Some people deliberately mix marijuana with other substances. However, if it comes from a producer or seller, they may not disclose that the marijuana is laced – or what it’s laced with. In some cases, the seller may not know the marijuana is laced at all.

The responsibility falls on you to determine if your weed is laced. Here are some ways to tell:

Smell

Fresh marijuana smells earthy, like grass or leaves. It could be laced if it smells like chemicals, such as nail polish remover (acetone) or gasoline.

Taste

People who intentionally add other drugs to marijuana often say it tastes and smokes terribly. If you’re familiar with the strain and it suddenly tastes different, that could be a sign that it’s been laced with something else. Embalming fluid and PCP are known for an overwhelmingly bad flavor.

Appearance

Some strains of marijuana can get brown crystals naturally, but blue or white crystals could indicate contamination with other drugs. Keep in mind that not all drugs are visible when they’re mixed with marijuana, however.

Testing

Though you may be able to tell if weed is laced using your senses, that’s not always the case. Some drugs, such as fentanyl, are virtually undetectable without testing. Drug testing kits can be a somewhat reliable way to test your batch.

Keep in mind that drug testing kits are not 100% reliable, and they may only test for certain drugs like methamphetamine or cocaine.
If you have doubts about the safety of your marijuana, or if you even suspect fentanyl-laced weed, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Aside from the potential risks of laced weed, using marijuana itself can have risks. Though it’s often touted as a “safe and natural” drug, the marijuana in circulation today is much stronger and more addictive than it was in the past.[4]

It’s also an illegal drug on the federal level, even though several states have legalized it for medicinal or recreational use (or both), and more are relaxing their laws. But legal marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean safe marijuana, especially if your therapeutic or recreational use turns into substance abuse or addiction.

If you or a loved one have a marijuana addiction, help is available. Like other substance use disorders, marijuana use disorder can be treated effectively with medical detox, inpatient rehab, individual and group therapy, support groups, and behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Learn More About Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Frequently Asked Questions

01

Can Weed Be Laced?

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Though rare, weed can be laced with other substances like PCP or LSD. This could be a deliberate attempt to alter the psychoactive effects or increase profit margins, but marijuana can be laced from contact with contaminated surfaces.

02

What Does Laced Weed Look Like?

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If weed is laced with certain drugs, it may have blue or white crystals or a dusting of white powder. It’s important to note that laced weed isn’t always obvious, especially by its appearance, and you can’t tell if weed is safe by sight alone.

03

How Often Is Weed Laced?

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It’s difficult to pin down the exact numbers for laced weed, mostly because cannabis users aren’t coming forward unless they end up in the emergency room from it. But with the sheer number of marijuana users across the US – 52.5 million as of 2021 – there would likely be more reports and warnings if laced marijuana was as common as tainted opioids.[5]

Sources
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[01]

Le, Q., Dangol, G., & Bhandari, A. (2023). A rare case of diffuse alveolar hemorrhage caused by Fentanyl-Laced marijuana. Curēus. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10239029/ on 2024, June 13.

[02]

Gilbert, C. R., Baram, M., & Cavarocchi, N. C. (2013). “Smoking wet”: respiratory failure related to smoking tainted marijuana cigarettes. Texas Heart Institute journal, 40(1), 64–67. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3568288/ on 2023, June 21.

[03]

Gilbert, C. R., Baram, M., & Cavarocchi, N. C. (2013). “Smoking wet”: respiratory failure related to smoking tainted marijuana cigarettes. Texas Heart Institute journal, 40(1), 64–67. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3568288/ on 2023, June 21.

[04]

Stuyt E. (2018). The Problem with the Current High Potency THC Marijuana from the Perspective of an Addiction Psychiatrist. Missouri medicine, 115(6), 482–486. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6312155/ on 2023, June 21.

[05]

Cannabis facts and stats. (2024, February 22). Cannabis and Public Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cannabis/data-research/facts-stats/ on 2024, June 13.

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