Weed and wilderness don't mix, says North Shore Rescue
'Hiking while high 'a terrible and dangerous idea'
Rescue crews are pleading with the public not to use cannabis on the mountains after a website began advertising cannabis-enhanced adventure tours in Vancouver.
Curtis Jones of North Shore Rescue says he's concerned.
As B.C. counts down to legalization on Oct. 17, a new sense of legitimacy may lull outdoor adventure seekers into a false sense of security around marijuana use, said Jones in a blog post on NSR's website.
Guided or not, cannabis tours are dangerous
Jones refers to a post on a cannabis lifestyle website, entitled Outdoor Cannabis Adventure Tours are Coming to Vancouver. He calls the headline "face-palm worthy" and says he expects to see more entrepreneurs promoting similar activities in October when pot becomes legal.
While the legality of such enterprises is still unclear, Jones says the safety concerns are not up for debate.
"The mountains are not the place to lose yourself in a drug-induced stupor, nor are they a place to experiment and learn your tolerance. The reality we face is that the wilderness is unforgiving, and it can take a long time for rescue crews to reach you."
'No safe way to experiment'
NSR says it takes no stance on the consumption of legal cannabis, but it does not mince words when it comes to combining pot and wilderness activities.
"There is no safe way to experiment with drugs in the mountains," said Jones.
"The combination of mind-altering drugs and being in the wilderness is a terrible and dangerous idea."
Jones' blog post goes on to cite several examples of hikers requiring rescue services after using substances.
During one incident on Cypress, a snowshoer, who had consumed edible marijuana, had a seizure and search crews were called in to take him off the mountain.
Weed is not the only culprit
Safety concerns are not confined to cannabis use. Alcohol, acid, ecstasy and mushrooms have all been factors in rescue operations according to NSR logs:
- On Cypress, a young hiker took acid while hiking, had a bad trip and required evacuation. Weather delayed the response by hours.
- Two individuals went snowshoe camping on Mount Seymour and consumed marijuana and ecstasy. One of the campers had a psychotic episode and stabbed his friend with a bowie knife. His friend returned the favour. Both snowshoers were arrested and taken to hospital.
- Near Lions Bay, a hiker consumed mushrooms and marijuana, fell 60 metres into a ravine and had to be lifted out by helicopter.
- Two young people left a bar on Burnaby Mountain, heavily intoxicated by alcohol. They both fell to their deaths.
Jones says the short list above is just "off the top of [his] head," and simply the tip of the iceberg. He is asking hikers to be prepared and sober when they venture outdoors.
"Be responsible in the mountains and leave the weed at home."
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