This type of fentanyl can be mistaken for kids’ chalk or other innocuous things, they warned.
Officials have pointed out that this form of fentanyl is fatal in “absolutely miniscule” quantities – it takes just 2mg of fentanyl to cause a fatal overdose, the Multnomah County health department pointed out in a statement.
“If it gets on your skin it can be fatal. We have seen addicts smoke it, inject it, and snort it. It’s extremely dangerous,” Lt Matt Jordan of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office told local media.
“To a little kid, it can look like sidewalk chalk. It can look like a Pixy Stick,” Mr Jordan added.
On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said it seized a bag of the “rainbow” fentanyl during the execution of a warrant in northeast Portland.
Authorities also found body armour, $5,000 in cash, nine guns and drugs including meth, heroin, 800 pills of fentanyl and four grams of the multicoloured fentanyl in the suspect’s home, said a statement from the sheriff’s office.
“We are partnering with Multnomah County health departments to sound the alarm,” Sensitive Intelligence Unit Sergeant Matt Ferguson told the media.
“The public needs to be aware of the rising use of powdered fentanyl. We believe this is going to be the new trend seen on the streets of Portland.”
Authorities are worried that “rainbow” multicoloured fentanyl might get into the hands of young adults and can be mistaken for sidewalk chalk due to its colour and consistency.
Julie Dodge, interim director of Behavioral Health for Multnomah County, was quoted as saying by FOX12 Oregon that “it is not uncommon for drug forms to shift over time. That’s why the main message always has to be, we take a risk any time we take a substance that we don’t know who made it, and when there’s no quality control”.
This is rainbow fentanyl. @MultCoSO says they found it at a recent drug bust, saying it's one of the first cases of it being found in Portland. Experts are concerned because of it's colorful appearance and how that might make it more enticing to children and teens. @KATUNews pic.twitter.com/4abOWYcYi4
— Eric Mock (@EricMockTV) August 17, 2022
“We are seeing more powdered fentanyl that is dyed in various colours,” Multnomah County harm reduction supervisor Kelsi Junge said.
“The strength can vary but is typically stronger than pressed pills. Anyone that intends to use powdered fentanyl should follow principles of harm reduction by going slow, not using when you are alone and ensuring that someone has narcan [an overdose treatment].”
She toldKGW8 that authorities are “definitely seeing more” of the “rainbow” fentanyl around. “What we’re mostly seeing is this powder form being sold in very small amounts.”
“It’s miniscule. The fatal amount is absolutely miniscule,” warned Mr Jordan.
“I have never experienced the amount of use that I am seeing now and in this community,” a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office sergeant who wished to remain anonymous, told KOIN 6.
“This is the most prolific use that I have ever experienced and I have been doing drug enforcement for in excess of 10 years.”