While marijuana is a commonly used recreational drug, unknowingly using heroin-laced weed can result in dangerous side effects or an overdose.

Heroin and weed are very different drugs. Heroin is a depressant that binds to opioid receptors in the brain, making it highly addictive. Heroin is also incredibly dangerous, and thousands of people die yearly from opioid-related overdoses.

Marijuana, nicknamed weed, on the other hand, is a commonly used recreational drug that is legal in several states for both medicinal and recreational use. While the safety of marijuana is hotly debated in the U.S., most agree that it doesn’t carry the risk level of heroin since a marijuana overdose is considered nonfatal.

Unfortunately, some people who think they’re purchasing marijuana on the streets find that it’s weed laced with other more dangerous and addictive substances, including heroin.

Article at a Glance

  • Unknowingly using heroin-laced weed can be dangerous and may result in an overdose. 
  • You can look for certain signs that may help determine if you have laced weed.

What Is Laced Weed?

Laced weed is marijuana that contains trace amounts of other substances. These substances may be added to make the drug more potent, to alter the drug’s effects or by cross-contamination (accidental mixing with other substances). The presence of other substances can raise the risk of dangerous side effects. Some substances used for lacing weed include:

Signs of Laced Weed

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if weed is laced. New and inventive ways of blending other substances with drugs like marijuana are constantly developing. Even so, there are methods for identifying when weed may be laced with heroin or other harmful substances.

  • Appearance: Differences in typical color or texture may indicate the presence of other substances. Strange or uneven colors, wet weed or weed that changes colors when you light it or contains traces of powder should warn a marijuana user that their weed may be laced. Brown or yellow powder may mean heroin is present, while white powder may be cocaine. 
  • Feel: Weed that contains trichomes (sugar-like substances formed by essential oils in cannabis leaves) but doesn’t stick to fingers may be laced with substances to make the weed seem more “high quality” to the buyer. Weed that has trichomes but is not sticky may be laced with shards of glass. The presence of excess dust may be from substances such as heroin or cocaine.
  • Smell: Different substances may alter the smell of weed. A chemical smell may indicate the presence of crack cocaine. Weed may smell like vinegar if it is laced with heroin. The smell of plastic may be from methamphetamines. Perfumey smells may indicate laundry detergent.
  • Sound: Weed laced with cocaine may give off a crackling sound when lit.
  • Taste: A metallic, soapy or weird taste may be from substances mixed with weed.
  • Test: Certain tests can help determine if weed is laced. Weed that makes suds when dropped in water may be laced with laundry detergent. Fentanyl test strips can be used to test for fentanyl’s presence. These strips typically show results within five minutes and may be life-saving.

Heroin-laced Weed Symptoms

Weed can be laced with other substances, including heroin. Sometimes people want weed laced with other drugs because they desire a more powerful high. However, many are unaware of the other drug’s presence.

So, what are heroin-laced weed symptoms?

Heroin-laced weed symptoms include drowsiness or lethargy, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe heroin-laced weed symptoms include slowed breathing, reduced heart rate, confusion and losing consciousness. If someone inadvertently uses heroin and weed and has never used heroin before, their tolerance for the substance is low, and they can easily overdose.

What can you do to avoid heroin-laced weed symptoms? Ultimately, the only way to protect yourself against combinations like heroin and weed is by not using illicit drugs, including marijuana. Since recreational marijuana use is legalized in some states, the drug is regulated, and people can acquire marijuana legally without concern about heroin’s potential inclusion.

Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Elizabeth Cambria

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.