4/20 rally: ER doctors bracing for influx of people Saturday
Published Friday, April 19, 2019 11:55AM PDT
Last Updated Friday, April 19, 2019 7:47PM PDT
Every year on April 20, the emergency room at St. Paul’s Hospital is flooded with dozens of people who have over-indulged at the 4/20 event at Sunset Beach.
“You get a huge influx of people coming fairly rapidly after the celebration starts,” said Dr. Chris DeWitt. “And it typically just fills the entire waiting room with people who have consumed too much cannabis and are feeling unwell. The odour of the entire place actually starts smelling, probably, like the 4/20 celebration.”
According to Providence Health Care, 40 people were treated in the emergency room at St Paul’s during and after last year’s event, and four of them were under the age of 18.
“In the meantime, we’ve got all the regular ailments that are presenting,” said DeWitt. “Heart attacks, strokes, everything else, mixed in with all this. So, trying to take care of those patients is more difficult just because of the volume of 4/20 people that are coming in as well.”
According to DeWitt, the majority of people requiring medical treatment have consumed too much cannabis in edible form, which is still unregulated by the government.
He says people often don’t know the dosage of that type of product, and if they’re novice users, may become impatient waiting for it to take effect.
That can take up to two hours in some cases, and in the meantime, users may take additional doses.
“By the time they start feeling the effects, now they’ve had multiple extra doses, and there’s no way to get it out of your system once it’s in there,” said DeWitt. “So they’re in for, sometimes, a rough and uncomfortable ride for a period of time.”
The unsanctioned festival will go ahead Saturday at Sunset Beach over the objections of the Vancouver Park Board and Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service.
It is the first time the event has fallen on a weekend since it moved from the Vancouver Art Gallery to Sunset Beach in 2016.