Aug. 22, 2022 – Experts have differing theories as to why illicit drug manufacturers are producing brightly colored fentanyl. Some officials, including Michael W. Humphries, area director for the US Customs and Border Protection Port of Nogales, Arizona, and Placer County, California, District Attorney Morgan Gire have suggested in public statements that the appearance of rainbow fentanyl is designed to appeal to young people.

“To be clear, all fentanyl purchased on the street is deadly, no matter the color, shape, size, or form,” Gire wrote in a statement published on the Placer County District Attorney’s Office Facebook page. “Yet, we find this rainbow-colored substance is one of the many tools that dealers are using to make the poison appeal to our kids. Any form of narcotic that does not come from a doctor’s prescription could be lethal, but we want the community to know these multi-colored powders are one of the trends we are seeing in the fentanyl market.”

Others, including Claire Zagorski, coordinator of the University of Texas at Austin Pharmacy Addictions Research and Medicine Program, said that coloring is being added to fentanyl to help producers distinguish their products from competing criminal organizations, not to target youths.

“There is not a lot of money in targeting kids, and this idea that drug sellers are coming for our children is a very old one that’s been washed and repeated over the decades,” Zagorski told Vice News.


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