Psychedelic use spreads in B.C. native community
RCMP are investigating the alleged use of hallucinogenic drugs during religious ceremonies on Haida Gwaii.
Drugs such as peyote and ayahuasca may have been used during healing circles sessions, according to RCMP Sgt. Rob Knapton.
Both plant-based substances are used for spiritual purposes by indigenous people in Central and South America.
Police are only gathering information at this point and have not launched a criminal investigation, Knapton said .
"I have no information of what [the drugs] are," he said. "Short of subjecting them to analysis, we have no idea what's being used."
Skidegate Chief Roy Jones Jr. does not condone the use of the drugs and said he's concerned about spreading use in the island group, about 800 kilometres northwest of Vancouver.
"People are doing it, the kids are doing it, it's out there," said Jones. "When you live in a small community, there's not many secrets."
Local doctors have said their patients are reporting serious side-effects from the drugs and have signed an open letter warning that users risk their health and their sanity if they try the psychedelics.
Ayahuasca and peyote are not illegal in Canada, although both the peyote derivative mescaline and the ayahuasca derivative harmaline are listed as controlled substances under Schedule III in the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Conviction of possession of a Schedule III substance without a prescription can result in a maximum three-year prison sentence.
With files from the CBC's Betsy Trumpener