Thurston County Sheriff Warns of ‘Rainbow Fentanyl’ Following Drug Bust in Oregon


Local authorities are warning community members about a new, extremely potent, brightly-colored “rainbow” form of fentanyl that is popping up around the country.

“Authorities are particularly worried about young adults and children ending up with rainbow fentanyl, as they could mistake the drug for something else, such as candy, sidewalk chalk or a toy, because of its color and appearance,” said the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office in a news release posted to Facebook on Thursday.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office found and seized four grams of the new type of fentanyl during the execution of a search warrant at a residence in Northeast Portland earlier this week, according to reporting by KATU News.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and is often mixed with other substances, sometimes without the buyer’s knowledge.

Rainbow fentanyl has a higher potency than other forms of fentanyl, causing overdoses with as little as two milligrams ingested, according to KATU.

Authorities around the country this week have confiscated thousands of rainbow-colored fentanyl pills that resemble candy, according to reporting by the New York Post.

“Fentanyl continues to be a scourge both nationally and locally,” said the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office in a news release.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and the Narcotics Task Force have seen a “dramatic” increase in the availability, use and deaths associated with fentanyl, according to the Thursday news release.

The Narcotics Task Force has also seen an increase in cases associated with fentanyl.

“As a result, large quantity (busts) have also increased,” said the sheriff’s office.

“The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office will continue to prioritize the task force and resources needed to combat delivery, manufacture and sale of fentanyl and other illegal drugs that plague our community,” the sheriff’s office stated in the news release.

At least 36 Thurston County residents died from fentanyl overdoses in 2021, out of a total of at least 45 general opioid overdose deaths, according to reporting by The Olympian.

In Lewis County, ingestion of fentanyl was the second highest contributor to drug-related deaths in both 2021 and 2020. Methamphetamine was the highest contributor both years.

As of July 5, Lewis County Coroner’s Office had counted 11 drug-related deaths so far in 2022, according to previous Chronicle reporting. Some of those drug-related deaths have come from fentanyl — but only when ingested concurrently with other drugs — according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.