Powerful opioid discovered in cannabis-like substance in Tecumseh
There is heightened concern after the deadly drug carfentanil was discovered in Essex County, laced in what appeared to be cannabis.
The Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy issued an alert in connection with the seizure of a substance in Tecumseh thought to be cannabis that was confirmed to have been laced with carfentanil on May 23.
Carfentanil is an extremely toxic substance commonly used in veterinary medicine to sedate large animals but it has showed up in the region again.
The discovery prompted Windsor-Essex health officials to issue an alert.
“It is now much more real and it is in our community,” says Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the Medical Officer of Health in Windsor-Essex. “We knew it from the advance that those are the risks that we concerned about, even in the past.”
The OPP have not responded to CTV News for comment, but Windsor police have seen the drug in the community since 2017.
In fact, police confirmed the first overdose death in Windsor by carfentanil in August 2017.
“You cannot taste it, you cannot smell it and yet the smallest amount will kill you,” says Windsor police Sgt. Steve Betteridge.
Carfentanil is used to subdue large animals like horses or elephants.
Seeing it pop up in commonly used drugs like cannabis is particularly concerning for those looking to help others through opioid addiction.
Mike Brown is the founder and owner of Spiritual Soldier, a Windsor coffee shop that also helps those dealing with addiction.
“Some young kid or of any age, can go and pick up their weed and all of a sudden it's laced with this carfentanil and they smoke a joint and they don't wake up and that is,” says Brown. “That's very, very, very scary.”
Brown tells CTV Windsor the continued presence of carfentanil only makes it more dangerous for those stuck in a vicious cycle.
“Lot of my friends were opioid addicts and they say it wasn't even to get high anymore it was just to not stay sick,” says Brown. “It was just to maintain right? So, it's definitely -- it's an epidemic.”
Dr. Ahmed stresses the alert is meant to inform the broader community, first responders and those most vulnerable to opioids.
According to Public Health Ontario, 28 people in Windsor-Essex died in the first nine months of 2018 from apparent opioid overdoses.
The data also shows 36 opioid-related deaths in 2017. That compares to 37 in 2016 and 24 in 2015.