Professor Lewis Nelson, chair of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, is available to discuss the spike in overdose deaths during the pandemic as announced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the concerns of fentanyl-laced marijuana circulating the market.

“The reasons for the escalating number of drug overdose deaths are numerous, but many represent missed opportunities, poor decision-making, social stigma, and cultural change at many levels,” said Nelson. “While there have been some bright spots, the response to the drug crisis, led by opioids, has been chaotic and insufficient and it will take a concerted effort and leadership to address it.”

“Although some people group all drugs in a big basket, the effects that users seek from each are quite distinct and often nuanced,” said Nelson. “For this reason, fentanyl adulteration of marijuana, recently reported in some northeastern states, seems illogical given the marked differences, lack of complementary effect, and the added cost and risk. While there have been previous reports, mostly unfounded, of such contamination, there are several reasons to think that this finding, which is likely analytically accurate, does not represent a trend toward riskier cannabis.”



Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) takes an integrated approach to educating students, providing clinical care and conducting research, all with the goal of improving human health. Aligned with Rutgers University–New Brunswick, and collaborating university-wide, RBHS includes eight schools, a behavioral health network and four centers and institutes. RBHS offers an outstanding education in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, public health, nursing, biomedical research and the full spectrum of allied health careers. RBHS clinical and academic facilities are located throughout the state.