Tenn. sheriff urges caution after multiple fentanyl-laced dollar bills reportedly found


PERRY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — If you see money on the ground, you may want to think twice before picking it up. The Perry County sheriff says there have now been three cases of money found with fentanyl inside of it in the last month.

Sheriff Nick Weems said he put out a warning to the community on social media — which has since gained national attention — about the money with fentanyl found at two separate gas stations. Days later, he had a third report at a state park.

“It’s a dangerous substance, and it’s not something you want in contact with especially a child,” Weems said.

The sheriff is pleading with the community to tell their children that if they see money on the ground, leave it. “I wouldn’t want my child picking up something like that and then opening it and …. inhale it,” he said.

Dr. David Edwards at Vanderbilt echoed the sheriff’s concerns. 

“If you are a child and you pick up a dollar bill that’s full of powder and you put your fingers in your mouth, I would I say that would be a big risk,” said Edwards. 

Simply touching a drug will not cause an overdose, Edwards said, but the risk is still concerning.

“You know ingesting something is a different story than touching something. Your skin is a really good barrier and will likely protect you, and you won’t just randomly overdose from just any medicine you are touching for a short period of time,” Edwards explained.

Weems acknowledges that it’s a controversial topic: “I’ve heard that you can and you can’t, but I don’t want to take that chance. Especially, I don’t want to take that chance with our children in our community.”

The synthetic opioid is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

“It infuriates me, really,” said the sheriff. “To think that somebody can be so careless about somebody else’s wellbeing. I don’t think that people are doing this intentionally to harm a child or harm somebody. I think it’s just a method they are starting to use to carry their drugs to where it doesn’t look so obvious, like a little plastic baggy.”

Fentanyl is a concern across the country. Weems says he sees nearly every illegal drug, including marijuana, cut with the deadly opioid.

“I would use extreme caution. Those saying finders’ keepers. That may be true, but you need to be careful because you don’t know what you are picking up.”

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