by Tough Mama
Gather round, kids. It’s time for some real talk on a tough subject: laced weed. You all know what I’m talking about. We’ve all heard of weed that’s been mixed with something else to make it stronger, weirder, or to fool you into thinking it’s higher quality than it really is.
But here’s the deal: Laced weed can be straight-up dangerous. Any self-respecting stoner needs to be able to spot if something funky has been mixed in with their flower. And Tough Mama’s here to teach you how.
Here’s everything you should know about laced weed, including…
- how to tell if weed is laced.
- how to tell what it’s laced with.
- what you should do if you accidentally smoke laced weed.
- how to avoid buying laced weed in the first place.
How Common Is Laced Weed?
Kids who grew up watching cartoons and action shows in the ’80s and ’90s thought quicksand would be a much bigger problem in their adult lives. You can say the same thing about the chances of accidentally coming across laced weed. If you go by the headlines and viral posts on Facebook, it seems like a really huge problem. But the facts tell a different story, especially if you’re talking about fentanyl, which is the most likely to get into the headlines. A recent case in Connecticut is a good example.
In November 2021, the Connecticut Department of Public Health issued a warning about fentanyl in weed. Just a few months later, in February 2022, they had to walk back their warning after testing lots of weed and finding fentanyl in exactly one sample. Even cops agree that it’s pretty rare to find weed laced with fentanyl.
So How Does It Happen?
Probably by accident. The stories you hear about weed laced with fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, angel dust, and other street drugs don’t pass the smell test. Just like nobody is handing out $20 edibles to kids at Halloween (bummer, Mama knows), no dealer is wasting money by dusting cheap weed with more expensive drugs.
What’s more likely is that they packaged their weed on the same table where they package other drugs. If they didn’t do a good job of cleaning up between batches, some of the fentanyl might get mixed in with the bud.
Why Do People Lace Weed?
Some stoners lace their own weed with another drug to change the high. That’s cool — Mama doesn’t judge. You might run into it if they bring it to a party or offer to share it with you. If you’re expecting pure flower, though, their little addition might be an unwelcome surprise.
Street dealers may mix low-quality weed with other things to make it heavier or to fake higher-quality strains. If you know what to look for, you can avoid getting ripped off — or worse, ending up in the ER.
How to Tell If Weed Is Laced
Fentanyl and other street drugs may grab the most headlines, but they’re not the only things you might find in your bud, especially if you’re buying it on the street. Here’s how to tell if weed is laced and what it’s laced with — preferably before you light it up.
- Know your weed. Know how it should look, taste, smell, and feel.
- Smell it. Different strains have very different smells, but they should all have that rich, earthy smell underneath it all. If it smells chemical or fake, it probably is.
- Feel it. Roll a nug between your fingers. It should be slightly sticky, and some of the trichomes might stick to your fingers.
- Look for excess white powder that might be crushed drugs or laundry detergent. The kief should be greenish with maybe a tinge of brown or yellow.
- Watch for weird effects when you light up. If it sparks, pops, or burns in weird colors, there’s probably something off with it.
Here are some specific things to check.
Like Mama said it’s rare to find fentanyl in weed. If you’re still worried about it, though, you can use a fentanyl test strip (here’s how to use them) on a small sample. It will tell you if there is any fentanyl in it.
Special Note: Fentanyl is more dangerous if you inject it or absorb it through mucous membranes, like under your tongue. It’s also a lot easier to test tinctures and oils for fentanyl.
There are two ways to tell if weed is laced with coke:
- a lot of white powder shakes off the buds.
- your mouth goes numb when you spark it up.
What you might feel after smoking weed laced with cocaine:
- high energy
- heart racing
- shallow breathing
What to do: Call someone you trust — if you’re not already with a friend. They can get medical help for you if your physical symptoms get too extreme.
Weed isn’t exactly laced with acid because the psychedelic compounds in acid will break down when you light up. Instead, people soak the mouth tip of a joint or blunt in acid to make a rainbow joint. There’s no real way to tell if you’ve got a rainbow joint before you smoke it and start tripping. It can be scary AF if you’re not expecting it.
What you might feel after smoking weed laced with acid:
- intense emotions
- time distortion
What to do: Again, get a friend to babysit. You’ll be fine in a few hours.
PCP (Angel Dust)
There are two ways to lace weed with PCP: mix it with the weed or soak the rolling papers in it. If it’s mixed in with the weed, you’ll see more white powder on the buds than there should be. If the papers have been soaked, you might be able to see the dried crystals. but don’t count on it. You will taste it, though. PCP has a strong, harsh smell and taste.
What you might feel after smoking weed laced with angel dust:
- feelings of invincibility
- racing heartbeat
What to do: Mama’s starting to feel like a broken record here but — yeah, call a buddy to sit it out with you. They can get help for you if you need it, and keep you company if you don’t.
Other Weird Additives
Some shady dealers try to pass off ditch weed as top-shelf green by doctoring their stash with some pretty nasty stuff. If you pay attention, you can usually catch it before you roll it up and toke.
Um, yeah, it’s a thing. — and not even a new thing. Back in 2007, Brits had an epidemic of grit weed. Dealers were spraying shwag with the stuff they use to make signs reflective. The buds looked rich and sticky with trichomes — but they were tiny glass beads.
How to tell: Rub a nug between your fingers. If it’s been laced with glass, it will feel gritty. Or rub against the back of a CD. If it leaves scratches, it’s probably laced.
What to do: Throw it out — and don’t buy from that dealer again.
Again, they’re trying to fake the trichomes you get on dank weed.
How to tell: Use your eyes. Laundry powder will be pure white or have blue speckles. Or break off a bit of bud and swish it around in a glass of warm water. If it suds — well, trichomes don’t do that.
What to do: Same as before. You don’t really want to smoke bargain-basement laundry soap, do you?
Butane or Fuel
Some strains of weed have a very distinct smell. Sometimes a dealer will try to fake something like Sour Diesel by spraying crap weed with lighter fluid or some kind of fuel.
How to tell: Break off a chunk and hold it to a lit flame. If it flares right up, it’s probably dipped in something flammable.
What to do: You know the drill by now.
How to Avoid Getting Laced Weed
Mama doesn’t say “don’t” very often, but here’s a big don’t — don’t buy your weed on the street corner. The one sure way to make sure you’re getting the real deal is to buy from a trusted source, like a dispensary. That way, you don’t look like a fool swishing your nugs in a dishpan to see if they suds up.
WebMD Connect to Care – Fentanyl Laced Weed: 3 Myths You Should Stop Believing Now
Ohio Harm Reduction Network – False Reports of Fentanyl in Cannabis
The Guardian – Warning Issued Over Cannabis Adulterated with Glass Beads
Annenberg Media – Fentanyl-laced Weed: Fact or Fiction?
Filter Mag – The Pernicious Myth of Fentanyl-laced Cannabis