Prairie Harm Reduction wants provincewide alert system after tip about fentanyl-laced Xanax

·2 min read
Prairie Harm Reduction executive director Jason Mercredi says he hopes people won't have to keep tuning into the organization's social media for information about potentially contaminated street drugs.  (Kendall Latimer/CBC - image credit)
Prairie Harm Reduction executive director Jason Mercredi says he hopes people won't have to keep tuning into the organization's social media for information about potentially contaminated street drugs. (Kendall Latimer/CBC - image credit)

Saskatoon's Prairie Harm Reduction issued a warning from its social media channels this week about a type of Xanax pill that could be laced with fentanyl.

That may seem like a small act, but there's more at play, according to to the agency's executive director, Jason Mercredi.

He hopes that within the next year, people won't have to rely on sporadic warnings from police and his non-profit to find out about potentially dangerous drugs on the street.

"We sent out the drug alert ourselves. We thought it was good to get word out," he said.

"We do think that the province needs to have some sort of framework in place so that drug alerts can go out to the wider public, and not through our non-profit, but through the government."

Mercredi said Prairie Harm Reduction received the tip about the potentially dangerous drug from a community member, and that response to the post has come in from all over the province.

"A lot of people who use ... street Xanax to self-medicate reached out to us and said 'thanks for the heads up,'" said Mercredi.

"It reached segments of the population that we normally don't reach, which is high school kids and people under 30."

Not everyone who has taken the Xanax pills has had a reaction, Mercredi said.

Saskatoon police spokesperson Julie Mireau said in a statement that the drug unit hasn't seen or seized that drug since October 2020.

"Police continue to remind the public that taking any drug that is not prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist poses a serious risk of injury or death," the statement said.

Police also reminded people of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which protects anyone calling about an overdose or experiencing an overdose from being charged with possession while seeking help.