Haida Gwaii doctors sound alarm on psychedelic use

A dozen doctors on Haida Gwaii are warning residents about the danger of using psychedelic drugs during aboriginal healing ceremonies.

A dozen doctors on Haida Gwaii are warning residents about the danger of using psychedelic drugs during aboriginal healing ceremonies.

The 12 doctors have signed a letter outlining the dangers of using unknown hallucinogens.

Dr. Harvey Thommasen said some locals have started using the mushroom Amanita muscaria in healing ceremonies.

"When I was in medical school, they taught us they were deadly poisons and they killed people," he said. "I called Poison Control and they said, 'Yeah, it's a poison.'"

Thommasen said the mushroom can affect both physical and mental health.

"People aren't being fully informed about what they're taking," he said.

"You're giving somebody an agent that will render them out of control or unconscious and it could potentially kill you. There are people showing up in a psychotic or mental breakdown state, and we're worried it's maybe related to this."

Thommasen said one Haida woman was knocked unconscious after she was handed ceremonial soup.

"She was very, very cold; very, very sweaty and then lost consciousness."

The RCMP have launched an investigation, but say they are just gathering information at this point and have not launched a criminal investigation.

With files from the CBC's Betsey Trumpener