Rainbow Fentanyl Sales on Popular Apps Spark Concern on West Coast


The sale of rainbow fentanyl on some popular social media apps has prompted concern from officials on the West Coast.

In a recent press release, the Placer County District Attorney’s Office in California reported the discovery of “rainbow-colored batches of fentanyl making its way into the county, seemingly designed to market to minors.”

“Reports are showing that many of these sales are happening on app-based programs such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok,” the district attorney’s office said, adding that fentanyl can come in the form of fake prescription pills and off-market vape pens and has been reported to be found in marijuana.

The report by the Placer County District Attorney’s Office comes just a few weeks after officials in Oregon warned of rainbow fentanyl possibly being targeted to adolescents. While executing a search warrant at a suspect’s home on August 16, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said that a “new form” of rainbow fentanyl was discovered.

A Drug Enforcement Administration chemist checks confiscated powder containing fentanyl at the DEA Northeast Regional Laboratory on October 8, 2019, in New York. This week, officials on the West Coast warned of the discovery and sales of rainbow fentanyl, which many believe is being used to target kids.

“Deputies are particularly concerned about rainbow fentanyl getting into the hands of young adults or children, who mistake the drug for something else, such as candy or a toy, or those who may be willing to try the drug due to its playful coloring. The powdered fentanyl found during this investigation resembles the color and consistency of sidewalk chalk,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release.

While speaking with Newsweek earlier this month, Kelly Sloop, a pharmacist and executive director of the Need 4 Narcan organization, said that rainbow fentanyl “is very appealing” due to its looks and colors. She noted that she is concerned “for our young adults and our youth.”

“There’s this new rainbow-colored fentanyl because the drug dealers and drug cartels are trying to reinvent the wheel to find another means of appealing to kids and young adults,” Sloop said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also reported a similar discovery of rainbow fentanyl this week.

“Rainbow fentanyl has appeared recently in several forms in cities across the country. A version seized recently in the Portland area resembles thick pieces of brightly-colored sidewalk chalk. Some versions seized elsewhere in pill or tablet form resemble candy,” the attorney’s office said in a press release.

In a statement on Tuesday, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said, “Rainbow fentanyl—fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes—is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults.”

“The men and women of the DEA are relentlessly working to stop the trafficking of rainbow fentanyl and defeat the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in the United States,” Milgram continued.

Newsweek reached out to the Placer County District Attorney’s Office for further comment. Newsweek also reached out to TikTok and Instagram for comment.