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La Crosse medical examiner warns about spread of deadly drugs



La Crosse County has had a heroin task force studying drug use for the last five years but heroin might not be the biggest ‘problem drug’ in the area right now.

County medical examiner Tim Candahl says the vast majority of overdose deaths in the county so far this year have involved fentanyl.

Candahl told a county board committee Tuesday that fentanyl, and the more powerful carfentanil, are becoming more popular with dealers because they take up less space to transport than heroin.

“You can take a fingernail and you get enough fentanyl in there that would take the place of a kilo of heroin,” Candahl said, adding that the county recorded its first death from carfentanil last October.

Candahl also told the law committee that 14 overdose deaths have been reported around the county in the first half of 2018. He said 90 percent of those deaths involved the use of fentanyl, and nearly every overdose resulted from a mixture of drugs.

And, while La Crosse County leaders are deciding this month whether to have a referendum on legalizing marijuana, they’re also hearing that it is becoming more dangerous — just not by itself.

“We’re also seeing it spiked with Drano,” Candahl said. “Fentanyl, is seen, a lot of different additives added to marijuana. You’re not seeing strictly marijuana anymore. It’s multiple stuff that’s being added to the product that these people are getting.”

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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