Rainbow Fentanyl, a new form of the highly dangerous drug Fentanyl, hit the streets of Southern California in early Sep. threatening to make this upcoming Halloween memorable, but not in a good way.
It is common knowledge that Fentanyl is an opioid that has quickly become a big contributor to overdoses in California, especially among teens. The drug is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine and a mere two milligrams of it can lead to an overdose. Though it is a painkiller prescribed for chronic pain as it is a synthetic opioid, the drug can instantly be deadly in the wrong hands.
According to the CDC, 107, 622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66 percent of those deaths being related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Not only is the drug being distributed on the street, but it is also being distributed on school campuses. Students who are experimenting with substances at school or in their leisure time are being given drugs that are laced with fentanyl mixed with heroin or cocaine. In 2020, 250 teens between the ages of 15-19 overdosed because of this lethal drug.
On Sep. 21, the California Department of Public Health issued a statement about the severity of the rainbow fentanyl epidemic. “Rainbow fentanyl can be found in many forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that can resemble sidewalk chalk or candy. Any pill (regardless of its color, shape, or size) that does not come from a health care provider or pharmacist can contain fentanyl and can be deadly.”
With Halloween approaching, it is a scary time for children as the possibility of rainbow fentanyl being placed in the candies you know and loves is there. Already the drug was made to target kids with its bright colors and candy shape meant to attract the attention of a younger audience. To hear that a harmless holiday is being bombarded with news about a narcotic possibly being planted inside your child’s candy is a parent’s worst nightmare. However, experts say that because of the cost it takes to make these drugs, it would not be likely for them to be given out. Nonetheless, due to the high amount of concerns from parents, America might be seeing a decrease in trick-or-treating activities this year.
With every drug epidemic comes a person who finds it as a business opportunity. The Sinaloa and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel are the people responsible for distributing Fentanyl across borders. There have even been reports of smuggling the drug through the border by placing it in a box of legos. Their newest addition to the family is rainbow Fentanyl, which is just one of the 42 known illicitly manufactured fentanyl analogs on the market.
On Oct. 11, Cade Kitchen, a 17-year-old student died of a fentanyl overdose at El Camino Real Charter High School. On the same day, another overdose occurred with Trinity Cornejo at Troy High School. The main culprit was suspected to be fentanyl. For this reason, Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is starting to be made available at Los Angeles High Schools for serious measures as it can reverse the effects of fentanyl in a matter of two minutes.
Already, there have been numerous reports of high school students overdosing due to fentanyl. The need to stop the use of the drug is imperative though is extremely hard because of teens’ curiosity. Schools are trying the best they can to help with this issue but the rare bathroom checks and going through a suspicious student’s belongings are not enough. Drug seminars or even classes about the effects of drugs and what you’re putting in your body is so little but can do so much for maybe just one person who is experiencing peer pressure to try the drug or another narcotic that is unknowingly laced with fentanyl.
The government also plays a part in this role as they are barely doing anything to help the situation as well. Thousands of teens are dying yet there has been no call to action. How many people have to pass away to see just an ounce of change? The illicit drug laws need to be harsher for the distributors as the penalty is only a 10-year sentence for the possession of 400 grams or more. It is only illegal to possess 400 grams when 2 milligrams is enough to kill a person. The current laws are too lenient and need to be reconsidered for harder disciplinary action.
In recent years, California’s drug problem has disrupted society with the number of deaths in our young teens. I hope to see a change in the future with a drop in fentanyl cases as there seems to be a surge at the moment.