British Columbia

Weed and wilderness don't mix, says North Shore Rescue

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.

'Hiking while high 'a terrible and dangerous idea'

Safety concerns are not confined to cannabis use. Alcohol, acid, ecstasy and mushrooms have all been factors in rescue operations according to NSR logs. (North Shore Rescue)

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."

"The reality we face is that the wilderness is unforgiving and it can take a long time for rescue crews to reach you, even if you are only a couple kilometres up the trail." (North Shore Rescue)

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."

Read more from CBC British Columbia

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now