Friends and family of a Kamloops teenager who died last week after an apparent drug overdose are warning the community about a toxic supply, maintaining the 15-year-old girl died after smoking marijuana laced with another drug.
Police are also warning marijuana users to avoid the black market, but said they have not had any seized weed test positive for fentanyl.
The 15-year-old girl, whom KTW is not naming at the request of her family, died in hospital on Friday, June 19.
She was rushed to hospital earlier in the week after an apparent accidental overdose at home, KTW has been told.
Her death followed another apparent accidental overdose among the same group of Westsyde-area friends the previous weekend.
In that case, a teenaged boy is said to have become ill while smoking a joint.
KTW was told he collapsed and began convulsing before being taken to hospital. He has since recovered.
“The bottom line is, whoever the dealer is, they’re obviously selling something that’s more than just marijuana,” Bob Bridges, an uncle of the girl who died, told KTW.
“Unfortunately, these teens thought they just had marijuana and that the marijuana was pure.”
Fentanyl-laced marijuana is often mentioned on social media as a cautionary tale to young and casual pot smokers, but there have been no confirmed cases in Canada of someone falling ill after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl while using cannabis.
Fentanyl is a cheap, powerful drug used by some dealers to increase the profitability of such powdered drugs as cocaine and heroin, with the cheaper — and deadlier — fentanyl mixed in to increase volume sold.
Late last week, Interior Health issued a warning to cocaine users that fentanyl and phenacetin have been showing up in local samples of that drug, but nothing about cannabis.
Asked directly whether local police have any evidence of fentanyl-laced pot on city streets, RCMP Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said no.
“Kamloops RCMP does not have Health Canada verified results of recently seized marijuana to confirm if any was laced with any other drug,” she told KTW, while cautioning against the use of black-market weed.
“In general, the RCMP advise people over the age of 19 to only consume marijuana from legitimate cannabis stores. The quality and composition of any other marijuana should not be considered safe.”
Natasha Slade, a mother of a girl in the group of Westsyde friends, said the teens are upset.
“All I know is my daughter and her group of friends are devastated,” she said.
“They are afraid to talk. They won’t give us any detail about the drug dealer. They just call him ‘The Fat Man.’”
Slade said the teens have maintained all along that cannabis was the only drug they were knowingly using, including the boy who apparently overdosed last week.
“He thought he was just smoking a joint,” she said. “He fell down and started convulsing. We don’t know what exact thing this child smoked, but he believed it to be weed.”
Bridges, who is also a longtime Westsyde teacher and coach, said he’s troubled by what’s happening in the community.
“The goal is to bring light to the fact that there is a problem with the supply out here,” he said.
“Somebody has laced it with, I believe, fentanyl, which is a deadly drug. Would I like to know who the pusher is? You bet.”
Bridges said he will miss his niece and he hopes her death will help save others.
“She was a lovely lady and a great niece, but my point is to heighten the alertness of the community,” he said.
“The community is pretty tight out here.”
The BC Coroners Service confirmed to KTW it is investigating the teenager’s death, but said it is too early to determine what happened.
Shelkie said police are working with coroners.
“The investigation is ongoing,” she said. “Kamloops RCMP will assist the BC Coroners Service in any way they can.”