Canadian SAR Team Worried About Marijuana Users in the Mountains

Rescuers fear increasing amounts of cannabis users in the backcountry may mean more rescues.

If your packing list for a backcountry hike or snowshoeing trip includes cannabis, British Columbia North Shore Search and Rescue would like to have a word with you.

Curtis Jones, a member of the volunteer SAR organization, wrote a piece for their website last week that expressed concern about a growing trend of health and wellness practitioners advocating the use of marijuana while in the outdoors.

Jones was partially reacting to an article from a local news org on the rise of yoga and fitness programs tailored to THC users; some of those programs even offer advice on hiking and snowshoeing while high.

He also pointed to Flower and Freedom, a Vancouver-based cannabis lifestyle website, prominently featuring an article called: “Outdoor Adventure Cannabis Tours Are Coming to Vancouver.”

The article profiles a cannabis tour group company run by an outdoor enthusiast who advocates the use of a variety of cannabis products while hiking and generally playing around in the mountains.

Jones is concerned. Not so much with people using marijuana in general, he goes out of his way to be as non-judgmental as possible there, but with people getting stoned in the backcountry and getting in way, way over their heads.

Jones’ main point is that as marijuana becomes legalized in more places, users with little experience may bring pot into the backcountry, unaware of their limits, experimenting with drugs in places not particularly conducive to having a freakout, or impairing decision-making.

There are plenty of advocates out there though, who support getting a little stoned before physically taxing activities. Some doctors think cannabis can help with endurance. Athletes in hard-hitting sports like football and MMA swear by the pain-reducing abilities of CBD oils.

You can find articles online about the best cannabis for hiking and mountainclimbing alongside news pieces about stoned hikers too panicked to make their way out of the backcountry requiring rescue.


Showing 9 comments
  • jack

    when you are miles in some brandy or cannabis at night is not a bad thing imo, all you have to do is crawl into your sleeping bag. during the day i think it’s best to keep your wits about you when in the wilderness.

  • Mike C

    A good friend, riding and skiing partner, and longtime ER doc once told me that his backcountry first aid kit consisted of “a bandana, some duct tape, and an adequate supply of marijuana”.

    So there’s that.

  • Ory

    You could leave the bowl and green behind so there is more room for cans of beer or bottles of whiskey… Seriously though, are we talking about technical climbing or hiking here? Smokers who are climbing are likely highly functional stoners, meaning their focus is probably enhanced or balanced by being high. Not smoking might be more dangerous for people with a high tolerance if their edgy or getting adrenaline spikes. Depends on what is being smoked too. Some indica’s give really good focused energy, probably better than an energy drink or coffee. Some sativa’s can mellow out the stress of a crux pitch. I would never advocate for doing super technical stuff stoned, but if my partner was a habitual smoker and a competent climber I would easily trust their judgement on sketchy terrain.

    • Ory

      they’re** indicas** sativas* for the critics.

      • John

        Nice grammar save!

        • Bart

          Speaking of grammar saves, this one’s for the editors: Cannibis users, who are generally people, do not come in “amounts.” Numbers would work just fine.

  • Rogue Trail

    oh my. these folks must not get outside much. we’ve been out there safely enjoying the backcountry for decades. welcome.

  • Ivy

    Those worries are right and far-sighted. Hoping more people can realize this problem

  • Matt

    As someone who once lived in the North Shore mountains where Jones and his crew patrol, this ain’t no joke.

    Though suburban cup-de-sacs butt right up again the trails, make no mistake that these trails are cut into some very steep, very greasy and very unforgiving trails. They’re narrow and while maintained, they’re not groomed. It’s easy enough to stumble on an exposed root and fall 100′ down the side of the mountain, with the only thing to stop your fall being large and rather firm hemlocks or cedars — all the while being cold sober (happened to my father who broke his shoulder).

    Casual hike in Stanley Park? Have at it. Running the BMC trail or Lynn Peak? Save the Wacky Tobaccy till after to salve your muscles.

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