JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Alarming rumors about fentanyl overdoses linked solely to marijuana use don’t match up well with historical evidence on drugs that the synthetic opioid has been mixed with, and at least one area harm reduction advocate hopes to quell fears among the local pot-smoking community.

When News Channel 11 reported on a cluster of overdoses that occurred on September 18, several sources spoke of suspected fentanyl-laced marijuana as a culprit. They included the close friend of a young man who died last weekend, but also a couple of professionals who work in the prevention, recovery and harm reduction fields.

But Deirdre Gudger, director of prevention and outreach at ETSU Health’s Infection Disease Center of Excellence for HIV/AIDS said their suspicions are very likely incorrect, and that the word that laced marijuana might be in the community created a wave of panic on social media.

“It’s been in cocaine, it’s been in methamphetamine, it’s been in suboxone, it’s been in subutex — anything that’s in a pill or a powder, it’s absolutely been there.” Gudger said fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid is currently causing the highest percentage of overdoses in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) confirmed Thursday that testing of drug samples has never detected fentanyl in marijuana. Gudger said her understanding is that it also hasn’t been detected in any autopsy or toxicology reports that don’t show the presence of at least one other drug along with fentanyl.

Less than a month ago, Marie Williams, the commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, addressed the issue at a TBI roundtable on the state of illicit drugs in Tennessee.

“Fentanyl is showing up in vapes and marijuana — true or false,” Williams asked the audience.

“It is fiction,” she said. “What we know [is] there have been reports of this, but it’s never been provided by lab testing in Tennessee. That’s very important to know.”

Those are facts. They are contradicted by pervasive conjecture nationwide, and now in Northeast Tennessee.

“That’s where it becomes very challenging, because we want to make sure that one, people are having an incredible amount of anxiety around something that’s not ever been verified, and that they’re also making sure that they have all the information so they can make an informed decision and automatically go to a more risky point.”

Gudger said she doesn’t want to condemn people who have publicly speculated about fentanyl in marijuana, or even those who work in the field and claim it as fact. It’s something that a quick Google search shows have occurred across the country, and has even been spread by law enforcement agencies and public health officials before all the facts are in.

She also said the fact that it’s not been detected doesn’t mean there hasn’t been weed that contained fentanyl. Even if that were the case, though, the likelihood it could harm someone is decreased due to the heat applied to cannabis when it’s either smoked or cooked in edibles.

“The facts for anything are going to be important because it allows people to make sure that they are making the best decision for themselves and it’s not going to shift the conversation into a place that it doesn’t need to be,” Gudger said.

“For us within harm reduction, it is incredibly important because we want to make sure that people are going to trust us to be able to give them the information.”