Premier Christy Clark sparked a controversy after making comments in Ottawa that marijuana laced with fentanyl had been found in B.C.
Clark led a delegation of people personally affected by overdoses to Ottawa to share their experiences and thoughts on additional actions all levels of government can take.
“I think regulating marijuana is even more important now when we’re finding fentanyl in marijuana,” Clark said in a press conference.
But is Clark correct? Has fentanyl actually been found in marijuana?
Barb McLintock, a spokesperson for the B.C. Coroners Service, told Lakes District News that there has been no confirmed cases of deaths involving fentanyl-laced marijuana.
The Vancouver Police Department told CBC that while police have had suspected cases involving fentanyl-laced marijuana, the claims have never actually been proven to be true.
“There have been comments made in the past regarding fentanyl in marijuana that may have been the belief at the time based on the information available, but it has shown not to be the case and we continue to try and correct any misinformation,” said Vancouver Police constable Brian Montague.
Some newspapers, including Lakes District News, have reported information received from the RCMP saying that fentanyl had been found in marijuana.
Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, also weighed in on the controversy.
“As we’ve all heard from the Vancouver Police Department, this was reported in error,” he said in a statement.
Morris added that the reports of fentanyl-laced marijuana in the Haida Gwaii community of Masset earlier this month have also not been confirmed.
Despite the lack of proof that fentanyl has been found in marijuana, Morris says the province continues to warn the public that any and all drugs can be tainted with fentanyl, including marijuana.
“We implore everyone to take this caution seriously as we are seeing an average of two people dying a day in this crisis in our province,” he said.
Fentanyl continues to be detected in about 60 per cent of fatal drug overdoses. Since January, B.C. has lost 622 people to overdose deaths – more than double the number of people who died in car crashes last year.
Although no fentanyl-related overdose deaths have been reported in Burns Lake, one fentanyl-related death has recently been reported in Smithers.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is more addictive than heroin and potentially fatal in minutes. The substance can take the form of liquid, powder or pill, and can be masked in virtually any consumable product.