Brandon Bartelds smokes three joints at once while attending the 4-20 annual marijuana celebration, in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday April 20, 2018. One of British Columbia’s busiest rescue teams is warning backcountry hikers not to get high on their hike. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

B.C.’s search and rescue group concerned with commercial guided weed hikes

Group says it’s dangerous to get high in the backcountry

One of British Columbia’s busiest rescue teams is warning backcountry hikers not to get high on their hike.

Curtis Jones with B.C.’s North Shore Search and Rescue said the statement issued on the agency’s website is a proactive attempt before marijuana legalization this October to make sure hikers are aware of the dangers of experimenting with drugs in rough terrain.

Jones said a fellow search and rescue teammate sent him an article about a group that spoke about the benefits of outdoor activities pair with cannabis use.

He said in a blog posted on the North Shore Rescue website that they might expect social-media influencers and entrepreneurs to promote experiences that mesh with the psychoactive effects of marijuana.

“Generally speaking, whenever people go on the mountains and they aren’t in their right frame of mind, it vastly increases their chances of having to utilize our services,” said Jones in a phone interview.

“It increases the risk for our members when we’re going out there and not dealing with someone in a clear state of mind.”

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He said experienced hikers on the North Shore mountains regularly make mistakes and need search and rescue assistance, and that any substance that could alter the mental state raises the odds of a potentially deadly incident.

Bethany Rae is the CEO of Flower & Freedom, an organization that she said wants to create a safe space to help people learn about cannabis consumption and how it can be part of an active lifestyle.

Rae said in an interview that her organization does not support experimentation with cannabis in dangerous settings, but does encourage potential users to educate themselves before engaging in any scenario for which they may not be prepared.

“We aren’t suggesting anyone go out in the backcountry and get high,” she said. “And especially for novice or brand-new consumers.”

Flower and Freedom doesn’t supply marijuana to participants said Rae.

She said the use of marijuana before their yoga classes is just like someone consuming cannabis for medicinal purposes.

“There are many people around us every day consuming cannabis for therapeutic and medical reasons, perhaps we don’t know about it because of the stigma around it,” Rae said.

In a post on Flower & Freedom’s website titled “Outdoor Adventure Cannabis Tours Are Coming to Vancouver”, Tristan Slade of High Definition Tours spoke about his experience using cannabis as part of his fitness lifestyle.

Slade wasn’t available for an interview, but said in a statement that High Definition Tours does not have any guided backcountry hikes involving cannabis consumption scheduled yet, but “do realize that cannabis consumption does not always induce psychoactive effects and that cannabis can be consumed as part of an active lifestyle.”

Both he and Rae agreed that people need to educate themselves when consuming marijuana.

Jones said he doesn’t think his post will change people’s perceptions about using drugs or alcohol on hikes, but he hoped it would reach hikers experimenting with their marijuana tolerance before the search and rescue team has to find them on a mountain.

“It’s not the place to do it.”

Spencer Harwood, The Canadian Press


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