Rainbow Fentanyl: What You Need to Know

Rainbow Fentanyl: What You Need to Know

Last month, a teenage girl died of an apparent overdose at a Los Angeles high school and authorities are investigating three other possible overdoses of teens in the area. Investigators believe the drugs were purchased at a nearby park and are investigating whether the pills were laced with fentanyl – an increasingly common practice that has inspired the message, “One Pill Can Kill”.

In August 2022, the DEA and law enforcement partners seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states.  Dubbed “rainbow fentanyl”, this trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.

Brightly-colored fentanyl is being seized in multiple forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that resemble sidewalk chalk. Despite claims that certain colors may be more potent than others, there is no indication through DEA testing that this is the case.  Every color, shape, and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, which is equal to 10-15 grains of table salt, is considered a lethal dose.  Without laboratory testing, there is no way to know how much fentanyl is concentrated in a pill or powder. 

It’s important to know that fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat facing this country.  According to the CDC, 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66% of those deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.  Drug poisonings are now the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.  Fentanyl available in the United States is primarily supplied by two criminal drug networks, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

If you encounter fentanyl in any form, do not handle it and call 911 immediately.

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