When you appoint someone with virtually no health or drug policy experience to head up the fight against one of the worst drug epidemics in the history, I suppose you get what you paid for.

In the middle of an opioid crisis which threatens thousands of American lives, Kellyanne Conway, federally appointed “czar” of the crisis is telling people, for some reason, that weed is laced with fentanyl.

At a news conference last week, Conway said of fentanyl, “People are unwittingly ingesting it. It’s laced into heroin, marijuana, meth, cocaine, and it’s also just being distributed by itself.”

Of course, that isn’t true. As has been widely documented, fentanyl is being laced into heroin, and less frequently into meth and cocaine. Fentanyl overdoses killed at least 30,000 people in 2017 alone, as indicated by data from the CDC.

But there is little to no evidence of it appearing in cannabis.

“This is part of a wider fentanyl panic that goes beyond having alternative facts [and] leads to bad decisions,” Northeastern University drug policy expert Leo Beletsky told BuzzFeed News.

After some inquired about Conway’s remarks, White House press officials offered flimsy evidence of the claim. There was a speech in 2018 by NIDA chief Nora Volkow where she said, “Fentanyl is being used to lace a wide variety of drugs, including marijuana.”

That claim was only based on “anecdotal reports” from police departments which were never verified. And what better time to play a game of telephone then when we’re trying to solve a major health crisis?

Photo via Flickr user Gage Skidmore

Natalie