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What It Is and How to Avoid It

Laced cannabis, sometimes referred to as dipped cannabis, is cannabis that has been combined with other substances, typically illicit drugs. There are a few general reasons that someone would lace cannabis, some more malicious than others. Because mixing psychoactive substances come with risks, laced cannabis is always a cause for concern. 

  1. Why Do People Lace Drugs?
  2. What Can Cannabis Be Laced With?
  3. How To Tell If Cannabis Is Laced
  4. Is Marijuana Addictive?


Why Do People Lace Drugs?

Why do people lace drugs and, in particular, cannabis? Some of the general reasons why someone would lace cannabis include but are not limited to the following:

  • To intensify the effects of cannabis in hopes of repeat business
  • To increase the weight of cannabis so that less can be sold for more
  • To intoxicate someone unknowingly, most commonly to take advantage of them in some way or increase their dependency on the substance

Laced weed can be dangerous for many reasons, most of which depend on what the weed was laced with. Some of the potential dangers of laced marijuana include nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, trouble breathing, fainting, dizziness, and even fatality.

Cannabis isn’t the only substance that is commonly laced. In fact, many substances are. Lacing is sometimes referred to as “cutting.” This terminology is most commonly used in reference to how illicit drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, are manufactured and what “cuts” (ingredients) are used. In the case of cocaine or heroin, it is much cheaper to cut/lace the product with synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, allowing dealers to drastically increase profits at an unfortunate cost to the end consumer.

You’re probably asking yourself: How common is it for people to lace marijuana? While it is probably more common than you think, it isn’t so common that you should avoid consuming cannabis altogether simply because of the risk of potentially consuming laced marijuana. According to reports, there has been an uptick in drug overdoses caused by fentanyl-laced illicit cannabis in recent years. With a little common sense and some precautions, you can drastically decrease your risk of ever coming into contact with contaminated cannabis.

What Can Cannabis Be Laced With?

Cannabis can be laced with many different additives, including everything from illicit street drugs to pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medications, and even household cleaning products. While stimulants that are added to cannabis will result in the person experiencing stimulating effects, central nervous system depressants added to marijuana will produce significant feelings of sedation. Let’s look at some of the most common things cannabis is laced with, along with why someone would lace cannabis with these substances and the potential side effects they present.


Cannabis can be laced with cocaine; however, in most cases, this does not occur unless there is ill intent or the end consumer combines the two willingly. Someone may choose to lace cannabis with cocaine if they were consuming both and wanted a way to counteract the negative effects of cocaine, such as nausea.

Some of the potential side effects of consuming THC laced with cocaine include elevated heart rate and blood pressure, which presents a higher risk for stroke or heart attack. If you notice a metallic taste in your cannabis or your lips become numb when smoking it, it could be laced with cocaine.


Fentanyl-laced cannabis is one of the most commonly reported illicit cuts. Since fentanyl does not have a defined taste, you will have to rely on sight and smell. If you notice white or blue-tinted crystals or powder-like residue on your cannabis, it could be laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is described as having a gasoline or nail polish-like scent that should be distinguishable from any gassy notes in cannabis.

The only sure way to ensure that your cannabis is not laced with fentanyl is to use a test strip to test for its presence. Fentanyl-laced weed can cause many different symptoms, and just a small amount can lead to fatality. Other symptoms include slowed breathing, confusion, dizziness, clammy skin, slowed heart rate, hallucinations, sleepiness, low blood pressure, and constipation. If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect you may have consumed fentanyl-laced cannabis, seek medical attention immediately.

When in doubt, test your drugs: fentanyl test strips are available online and at most smoke shops.

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Learn more about fentanyl-laced cannabis and some myths associated with it here.

Embalming Fluid 

Another common cut that illicit drug dealers use is embalming fluid or formaldehyde, as it drastically weighs down the plant material and increases the weight, meaning dealers can sometimes double or triple their product weight and increase profits for little cost. Cannabis dipped in embalming fluid or PCP is sometimes referred to as “fry.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Embalming fluid reportedly produces a hallucinogenic effect and causes the cigarette [joint] to burn more slowly, potentially resulting in a prolonged high.” Symptoms of exposure to embalming fluid include “bronchitis, body tissue destruction, brain damage, lung damage, impaired coordination, and inflammation and sores in the throat, nose, and esophagus.”

Embalming fluid tends to have a strong pickle-like aroma, so if you notice a vinegary stench coming from your stash, your cannabis may be laced with embalming fluid.

Other Substances Used to Lace Cannabis

Cannabis can also be laced with:

  • Laundry Detergents
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • PCP
  • Ketamine
  • Psilocybin
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • Various other drugs and chemicals

Different cuts to cannabis can produce different smells and side effects. If you notice any suspicious smells or flavors when consuming your stash, it’s probably best to play it safe and throw it in the trash. That is unless you have testing strips handy and can test your cannabis for unsafe substances.

Symptoms of Consuming Laced Cannabis

Depending on what cannabis is laced with, the symptoms and side effects produced can range from nausea and vomiting to hallucinations, dizziness, confusion, and even death. If you are concerned about your stash, here are some of the most common symptoms of consuming contaminated cannabis to watch out for:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Excessive energy
  • Irritation
  • Mood swings
  • Poor coordination
  • Vomiting

How To Tell if Cannabis is Laced

How can you tell if cannabis is laced? This is a great question. Unfortunately, the only sure way to tell for certain is through testing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps and precautions that you can take to minimize the risk of consuming laced marijuana. Follow these tips for peace of mind in knowing that your cannabis is safe:

  • Purchase your cannabis legally from licensed, regulated dispensaries.
  • When you purchase a product, request its certificate of analysis—a report of the results from laboratory testing that verifies its safety and ingredients.
  • Always smell your cannabis carefully before consuming it, paying close attention to any aromas that are not natural for cannabis.
  • Inspect your cannabis thoroughly before consuming it, paying close attention to anything that appears crystal-like or powdery on the exterior of the buds or in the container.
  • Test your cannabis with testing strips to ensure there are no unknown substances present.
  • Grow your own cannabis! Not only is home cultivation therapeutic and better for quality control, but it prevents any concern about the safety of your cannabis.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Though marijuana addiction isn’t typically comparable to the physically addictive quality of fentanyl and other addictive drugs, marijuana use can result in withdrawal symptoms when a frequent cannabis user abruptly stops consuming

When a frequent cannabis user abruptly stops smoking marijuana, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Formally, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) recognizes this medical condition as cannabis withdrawal syndrome, which may stem from a mental health disorder called cannabis use disorder

Need a cannabis detox? Here are four great doctor-approved methods for a THC cleanse.

Final Takeaway

Cut or laced marijuana is never good. At best, it can cost you hard-earned money. At worst, it can lead to substance abuse, serious health complications, or even death. The most important thing you can do to ensure your cannabis is as pure as the ground it grew from is to purchase it from licensed sources or grow it yourself. While there are some bad apples in every bunch, legal cannabis is much less likely to be contaminated than cannabis from unknown sources.

If you’re new to the world of legal cannabis, make an appointment with an MMJ doctor today to find out if you’re a candidate for medical cannabis and create a consumption plan that works for you.

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