It was early evening at a popular downtown Toronto jazz bar, the band playing for an older crowd more into Ella Fitzgerald than Rihanna’s Umbrella-ella-ella. Part way through the set, a man in his late 50s stood and then promptly collapsed, face-first, onto the floor.
The Rex’s supervisor, Neil MacIntosh, watched in horror from behind the bar.
“You see this scene and you’re like, ‘Oh God. OK, instantly 911,'” he said.
MacIntosh assumed it was a stroke or a heart attack, but as paramedics arrived, he learned it was something quite different.
“He had eaten a [cannabis] edible and just couldn’t handle it,” MacIntosh said.
Cannabis overdoses are something he said he’s personally witnessed at the bar three times in the past year.
That mirrors a trend happening across the country — as the Oct. 17 date for legalization of recreational pot looms, CBC News has learned that cannabis-related emergency room visits have spiked.
Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows that over the past three years the number of emergency room visits because of cannabis overdoses in Ontario has almost tripled — from 449 in 2013-14, to nearly 1,500 in 2017-18.