British Columbia

Potluck participants end up at hospital after unknowingly ingesting cannabis

What started out as an innocent potluck in a small southern city in B.C. resulted in a visit to hospital for some attendees after they unknowingly ingested pot-laced food.

RCMP investigating incident at wake for former restaurant employee in Greenwood, B.C.

Cannabis edibles became legal in Canada in October 2019. Mineshaft Restaurant owner Darrell Watkins says a private party on March 2 included pot-laced food that made some participants feel unwell. (Victor Moussa/Shutterstock)

What started out as an innocent potluck in a small southern city in B.C. resulted in a visit to hospital for some attendees after they unknowingly ingested pot-laced food.

RCMP are investigating what happened at an event at the Mineshaft Restaurant in Greenwood, west of Grand Forks, on March 2.

Employees at the restaurant had organized a wake for a former employee, Taffie Rogers, and some people brought homemade food into the restaurant for the event.

One of the items was dosed with cannabis. 

Restaurant owner Darrell Watkins said some people ended up going to the hospital after not feeling well. They were told they had cannabinoids — chemicals found in cannabis — in their systems.

"These are people that don't normally use cannabis," Watkins said about the people who ingested the pot-laced food.

"We'd like to believe that it was completely by accident. There's a number of people in the area that make edibles and stuff since they became legal."

Watkins said he became aware of the situation around 10 p.m. while he was tending bar for the private function.

"I was told that there was none left or anything that I could inspect. So, I just hoped it was a rumour and unfortunately it was not."

Watkins says one of the people at the function who ingested the items, but didn't feel unwell as a result, was a 74-year-old waitress.

"She didn't have a problem with it even though she's not a regular user, so it's really quite amazing how it affected people differently," he said.

Police investigating 

RCMP Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey said that investigators are still trying to track down the exact number of attendees who went to hospital. Police are also trying to speak to everyone at the party.

"Our investigators have not been able to determine the exact source or cause at this time," said O'Donaghey.

There are rules around what restaurants can and cannot offer at their establishments.

According to B.C.'s Food Premises Regulation, the operator is responsible for ensuring all the food that is on the premises is protected from contamination.

Watkins says that this incident will change how he operates community events in the future.

"There will no longer be any outside foods brought in unless in original store-bought packaging. That's what we ultimately have to do, which is unfortunate because we know the local people like to have their little goodies."

With files from Daybreak South and Tom Popyk

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