Operation Red Nose expecting more calls due to legal cannabis, says Thunder Bay chapter

The legalization of cannabis in Canada is expected to lead to more calls for service during this year’s Operation Red Nose in Thunder Bay, Ont., according to an official with St. John Ambulance.

Despite marijuana being available, although illegal, prior to legislative changes in October, St John Ambulance volunteer coordinator Brian Edwards said being able to smoke legally now will likely mean more callers to Red Nose because of cannabis impairment.

“It has been a common recreational drug, but I think it’s more socially acceptable — may be the term — for a lot of party-goers now,” he said. “With the introduction of legalization, we are still anticipating more than usual calls.”

“We’re actually getting phone calls from, I guess party-goers, people that go to Christmas parties and shags and just house parties, asking if Red Nose volunteers can still pick them up [if impaired by cannabis].”

Those inquiries have led officials to expand their definition of impairment — and consequently, when people should call the service — to include “anybody who feels uncomfortable or unfit to safely drive their vehicle back home,” Edwards said.

That has the charity ride program calling for more volunteers, particularly on Saturday nights, Edwards said, adding that typically they have 15 to 20 volunteers on those nights. The service really needs 50 to 75 people on Saturdays, he said.

“We need to get the wait time down to ensure that we can get our community members safely back home.”….

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