The Truth About Rainbow Fentanyl

Rainbow-fentanyl-m30-Enhanced.jpg Rainbow-fentanyl-m30-Enhanced - Photo credit: DEA

Rainbow-fentanyl-m30-Enhanced.jpg Rainbow-fentanyl-m30-Enhanced – Photo credit: DEA

The United States With mid-season approaching, the scariest thing some Republicans can think of — besides a woman’s right to vote — is drugs being stuffed into kids’ Halloween baskets. In an on-air interview with Fox News, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said that “every mother in the country” is concerned that her children could get rainbow-colored fentanyl.

McDaniel is referring to an Aug. 30 release by the Drug Enforcement Administration warning parents about an “alarming trend” of rainbow-colored fentanyl pills targeting children.

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“Rainbow Fentanyl — fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes — is a deliberate attempt by drug dealers to promote addiction in children and young adults,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in the press release.

This comes from the same Drug Enforcement Agency known for issuing annual warnings to parents about drugs and marijuana-infused snacks that might be hiding in their kids’ Halloween baskets — a popular urban legend that’s debunked each year, but remains around of the holiday is trendy.

How Legit is Rainbow Fentanyl? Several harm reduction experts tell Rolling Stone While rainbow-colored fentanyl is on the streets, there’s absolutely no reason to believe cartels are making the drugs to seduce children.

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Mariah Francis, Resource Associate at the National Harm Reduction Coalition, narratess Rolling Stone that the production of colored pills is nothing new, but a way for illegal manufacturers to either identify their wares or produce pills that mimic authentic pharmaceutical versions. The pills in the photos shared by the DEA are all stamped and easily identifiable as pills, which Francis says makes it very hard to believe children are mistaking them for brightly colored candy.

“The idea that because [the pills] are colorful that means [cartels] must be trying to force fentanyl or kids or their Halloween candy is downright ridiculous,” says Francis Rolling Stone. “People just make creative colors and honestly there is no reason for it. And has been for 60 years. We’ve seen it with MDMA, we’ve seen it with recreational drugs. And it’s actually quite embarrassing because the DEA is really just late, late to the party.”

Francis adds that the idea that cartels want kids to mistake their pills for candy is “entirely divorced from reality,” and instead points to the nature of fentanyl production as being profit-driven — something that doesn’t exist Fits children who are usually lacking in disposable income.

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There are many aspects that make fentanyl an attractive drug to manufacture. The synthetic opioid is 50 to 100 times more potent than popular pain relievers like oxycodone or morphine, making it easy and inexpensive to mass-produce. But due to its potency and usually illegal production, steady rise and availability, accidental overdose rates in the US have skyrocketed like fentanyl. But Francis calls warnings like the DEA’s an active by-product of drug policies that prioritize criminalization and political agendas over active harm reduction.

Shawn Westfahl, overdose prevention and harm reduction coordinator at Prevention Point Philadelphia, narrates Rolling Stone Most accidental overdoses happen to casual drug users because addicts know they are using fentanyl, but people who think they are using standard pharmaceuticals can easily overdose. The easiest way to prevent this is through harm reduction techniques such as dispensing Narcan, an overdose reverser, or fentanyl test trips. But there’s still a lot of stigma around drugs and drug users. In 19 states, including Texas, Florida and Kansas, harm reduction agents such as fentanyl strips are considered illegal drug paraphernalia, in part due to old guidelines endorsed by the DEA in the late 1970s.

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“The fact is that people use substances. We want to offer this compassionate support so that people can open up more freely and don’t feel stigmatized because of their consumption,” says Westfahl Rolling Stone. “This stigma can be so real and often leads to people consuming in the shadows. And we lost a lot of people that way.”

Rather than focus on warnings meant to scare parents, Francis wants an engaged response to the overdose crisis that focuses on inclusion and the advancement of education.

“We don’t respond to drugs or colored drugs. We are responding to an era of ingrained, heinous drug policies created by the United States,” says Francis Rolling Stone. “When a drug dealer decides to do something turquoise or magenta, it’s not, ‘Oh my god, they might target our kids.’ They are already targeting adults.”

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