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OK, So Maybe Those Gummies Didn’t Contain Heroin or Fentanyl After All

by VICTOR FIORILLO·2/28/2023, 9:34 a.m.


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Montco DA Walks Back Statements About Heroin and Fentanyl in Smoke Shop Gummies


On Friday, I told you that the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office had sent out a red alert over THC-like gummies containing fentanyl and heroin. The discovery came after two non-fatal fentanyl overdoses that investigators had traced to gummies purchased at Tobacco Hut smoke shops in Montco. And so officials confiscated a bunch of gummies from three Tobacco Hut shops, tested them, and voila, every major local news outlet ran scary stories about smoke shop gummies containing fentanyl and heroin. Alas, things might not be as they first appeared.


Come Monday, I was hearing from sources that these results were either inaccurate or less than definitive. And by late Monday afternoon, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele more or less admitted to the same in a statement, declaring, “I don’t have any definitive answers.”


It turns out that the investigators who performed the original tests used some ridiculously sensitive portable equipment whose threshold for detection is .01 nanogram. One nanogram is equivalent to 0.000000001 grams, which, if my decimal-place counting is correct, is the same as one billionth of a gram. And that’s for one nanogram. In this case, we’re talking about a threshold that is one one-hundredth of said nanogram.


Over the weekend, investigators sent the supposedly fentanyl-positive products off to a lab for further testing. And the lab found absolutely zero illegal drugs in any of those products. It’s unclear what the lab’s detection threshold is, but it’s clearly more than .01 nanogram, an amount that wouldn’t even begin to get a person high.


“What I do know is the public needs to be wary of these [gummies] that are produced in an unregulated industry and in varying settings,” Steele said, adding that the public needs to know it is “buyer beware” in this world of edibles. “A toddler getting ahold of them and ingesting them or a teenager who eats a handful at once could be very dangerous.”


Steele also made it a point to thank the Tobacco Hut shops, which he said have been “fully cooperative.”


All of this is just more evidence that we need legal, well-regulated recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. Even the medical marijuana dispensaries aren’t allowed to sell edibles. As with our liquor laws, we’re very behind the times.


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