Hear about the drug 0verdoses in the Cincinnati area lately? They have been linked to carfentanil and/or fentanyl, a “powerful painkiller ordinarily used to tranquilize elephants and other large animals.”

Both fentanyl and carfentanil have shown up in powder sold as heroin, either as a substitute or as an adjunct to highly diluted batches of the opiate.

Why is this stuff found in heroin and possibly other powders? Simple: prohibition makes heroin more expensive to produce and distribute, which encourages dilution with additives such as carfentanil and fentanyl.

Why are illegal drugs so fatal?

. . . . prohibition, which makes drug potency inconsistent and unreliable. In contrast with prescription pharmaceuticals or beverage alcohol, which are delivered in carefully measured and accurately labeled doses, black-market heroin is unpredictable and may not even be heroin at all.

. . .

But weaker heroin encourages users to take larger doses, a habit that may prove lethal when purity bounces back, and encourages dealers to compensate by adding boosters such as fentanyl and carfentanil. Meanwhile, the ongoing crackdown on painkillers encourages opioid users to switch from predictably potent pharmaceuticals to whatever’s in the packets sold by heroin dealers, which might be an elephant tranquilizer.