Results from samples checked by Toronto’s drug checking service: April 9 - 22, 2022

Key findings

  • 95 samples were checked: 86% were substances1 and 14% were used equipment2
  • 78% of the samples checked were expected3 to be fentanyl, cocaine, MDMA, or ketamine
  • In an average5 fentanyl substance1:
    • Fentanyl accounted for 5% of the sample (n=25)
    • Caffeine accounted for 26% of the sample (n=25)
  • 14% of the expected3 fentanyl samples checked were known to be associated with an overdose: all contained a high-potency opioid (fentanyl and/or a nitazene opioid) – many also contained other central nervous system and respiratory depressants, like benzodiazepine-related drugs or xylazine
  • 40% of the expected3 fentanyl samples checked contained at least one benzodiazepine-related drug
  • 19% of the expected3 fentanyl samples checked contained xylazine
  • 14% of the expected3 fentanyl samples checked contained a nitazene opioid
  • Carfentanil, which is approximately 100 times stronger than fentanyl, was found in two expected3 fentanyl samples. Both samples were collected in Toronto’s downtown core and reported as being associated with overdose. One sample was pink rocks, the other was green rocks. Since carfentanil is so strong, the risk of overdose is increased, and greater than normal doses of naloxone may be required to rouse individuals experiencing an overdose.
  • AMB-FUBINACA, a very strong synthetic cannabinoid, was found in one expected3 fentanyl sample. This sample was collected in Toronto’s west end and was orange. When synthetic cannabinoids and opioids are used together, the risk of dangerous suppression of vitals is increased (e.g., slowing down of breathing, blood pressure, heart rate).

Expected fentanyl substances

  • 84% (26) of expected3 fentanyl substances checked4 contained fentanyl and other drugs, including:
    • 92% (24) contained caffeine
    • 38% (10) contained a benzodiazepine-related drug (!):
      • 31% (8) contained flualprazolam (!)
      • 4% (1) contained bromazolam (!)
      • 4% (1) contained etizolam (!)
    • 15% (4) contained a nitazene opioid (!):
      • 8% (2) contained isotonitazene/protonitazene6 (!)
      • 4% (1) contained etonitazepyne (!)
      • 4% (1) contained metonitazene (!)
    • 15% (4) contained xylazine (!)
    • 8% (2) contained despropionyl fentanyl (4-ANPP) (!)
    • 4% (1) contained carfentanil (!)
    • 4% (1) contained furanyl UF-17 (opioid-related) (!)
    • 4% (1) contained phenacetin (!)

Unexpected noteworthy drugs found in other expected substances

  • 4% (2) of the remaining substances checked,4 meaning substances that weren’t expected3 to be fentanyl, contained an unexpected noteworthy drug, including:
    • 7% (1) of expected cocaine substances contained levamisole (!)
    • 50% (1) of expected heroin substances contained fentanyl (!)
    • 50% (1) of expected heroin substances contained xylazine (!)


1 | Substances: Two types of samples are accepted by Toronto’s drug checking service: substances and used drug equipment. Substances could be a small amount of powder, crystals, or rocks, a crushed bit of a pill, blotter, or a small amount of liquid.

2 | Used equipment: Two types of samples are accepted by Toronto’s drug checking service: substances and used drug equipment. Used equipment could be a used cooker or filter, or leftover liquid from a syringe.

3 | Expected (drug): When a sample is submitted to be checked, the drug that sample was bought or got as is recorded. We call it the “expected drug”. Knowing the expected drug helps us tailor our harm reduction advice. It also helps us understand contamination to drugs rather than combinations of drugs (e.g., fentanyl was found in a cocaine sample rather than fentanyl and cocaine were found together).

4 | Reason for reporting only substance samples: While Toronto’s drug checking service checks both substances and used equipment, drug equipment – like cookers – are often re-used. The mass spectrometry technologies used for this drug checking service are so sensitive that very trace amounts of drugs may be found. This means that when equipment is re-used, drugs from past use may present in the results for the sample that is being checked. This can interfere with up-to-date drug supply monitoring, so we’ve noted when we exclude used equipment from this report.

5 | Average amount of drugs found: Toronto’s drug checking service can report the amount of fentanyl, cocaine, carfentanil, etizolam, and caffeine found as a proportion of the total sample submitted for expected opioid, cocaine, crack cocaine, and some other powder substance samples. Every other week, we include the average (median) amount of fentanyl, cocaine, carfentanil, etizolam, and caffeine found in expected fentanyl substances in our report. More information is available on our website.

6 | Isotonitazene/protonitazene: Because isotonitazene and protonitazene have a very similar chemical structure, it is not currently possible for Toronto’s drug checking service to differentiate between the two. For this reason, we report the two drugs together.

(!) | Unexpected noteworthy drug: “Noteworthy drugs” are drugs that (i) are linked to overdose or other adverse effects, (ii) are highly potent or related to highly potent drugs, or (iii) may not be desired by some service users. Noteworthy drugs are flagged when they are unexpectedly found in checked samples.