Can pot cause hallucinations? Report of officers who allegedly ate edibles fuels debate

CBC News

Questions about edible pot were begging for answers on Monday after CBC Toronto learned that two Toronto officers were suspended after allegedly ingesting marijuana edibles, hallucinating and calling for help while on duty.

The two officers, who both work at 13 Division, were on duty not far from the station at Eglinton Avenue West and Allen Road when they allegedly ingested pot edibles late Sunday.   

Police sources told CBC Toronto the officers began complaining of “hallucinations” and one made a call for an officer needing assistance. Both officers were found in a police vehicle and later treated in hospital.

That incident has fuelled debate about whether marijuana can actually cause hallucinations.

Ryan Vandrey, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, says there have been very clear demonstrations and scientific studies proving it does.

“Folks tend to be more prone to have hallucinations if they have a family history of psychosis, but there have been cases, even one recently in my laboratory, where somebody without a family history of psychosis has had hallucinations following acute dosing with cannabis,” he said.

Ryan Vandrey

Ryan Vandrey says there have been very clear demonstrations and scientific studies of acute dosing of cannabis causing hallucinations. (Ryan Vandrey)

People tend to believe that edibles are more potent, says Vandrey. He argues that is a misconception.

“It comes from the fact that people have a tendency to eat more than they would smoke or vaporize,” he asserted.

The main difference is in the timing, he says.

“When you eat it, it usually takes a lot longer for the effects to have an onset and the effects last longer.”

Vandrey also said there are individual differences in both the type and magnitude of drug effects with any drug. Cannabis is no different, he says.

“You are more apt to laughter and feeling giddy; in some cases you can become anxious or paranoid. Hallucinations in particularly high doses are a possibility,” he explained.

Dr Christopher Blue

Windsor doctor Christopher Blue is adamant that cannabis that is obtained from a source that has been inspected and approved is not a hallucinogen. (Jason Viau/CBC News)

But Christopher Blue, a Windsor, Ont., doctor, says cannabis in its raw form does not cause hallucination.

He concedes, however, that there is a possibility illegal cannabis could be laced with hallucinogens.

“They often use cutting agents in it like salvia, or K2, or spice,” which can have hallucinatory effects, often blamed on cannabis, he said.

Salvia is a psychedelic plant, while spice and K2 are synthetic cannabis compounds.

While Blue stresses that in the purest form, cannabis is not hallucinogenic, he says certain strains of cannabis can impair cognition and judgment.


CBC News has learned that Const. Vittorio Dominelli is one of two Toronto police officers suspended pending the outcome of an investigation by the force’s professional standards unit. (Toronto Police Service/Facebook)

In an interview with CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Tuesday, Coun. Shelley Carroll of the Toronto Police Services Board said the news of the incident involving the two officers was troubling.

“These are officers who should be trained such that they know how dangerous these things are because they do deal with people who have over-imbibed when they have a prescription for edibles,” she added.

Carroll said the side effects that the officers experienced are the very reason why the federal government is moving in stages and hesitating to make edibles widely legal at this point, other than by strict prescription.

CBC News has learned that one of the officers under investigation is Const. Vittorio Dominelli, but has not confirmed the name of his partner.


15 thoughts on “Can pot cause hallucinations? Report of officers who allegedly ate edibles fuels debate

  1. It is listed as a schedule 1 narcotic. To include addictive and hallucinogenic.

    I can say i always found that funny.

    Then i ate way too much.

    It was no dmt or lsd but yes it did make me hallucinate. As for addictive. I know many people who go through withdrals if they stop.

    Food for thought.

  2. I have never hallucinated, never had any “withdrawal” symptoms and I don’t know of anyone who has. More propaganda to keep the insane war on some drugs up and running.

  3. Stupid idiots…2 very dumbass cops..they couldn’t wait till their shift was over to…this story doesn’t tell you that,
    One of Toronto,s finest was tripping a tree, on duty….that’s hilarious..

  4. The liver processes edibles in a way that will make you have hallucinations.
    Producing a chemical compound.
    By it’s ingestion.

    Unlike smoking…

    You can really trip hard.

    Very scary for the unprepared and spiritually dead.

  5. I suppose with a massive overdose of Edibles hallucinations could be possible. These cops were unbelievably stupid and it makes you wonder what other nonsense they have been up to. I can say without hesitation that in 43 years of cannabis use I have never experienced hallucinations. I have on occasion experienced high anxiety from consuming too much.

    I am 61 and have been consuming cannabis off and on for over 43 years. I am a husband, father, electrical engineer, successful business owner, musician, community volunteer and marathon runner. I never use alcoholic beverages or tobacco products. My health is excellent, and my memory is intact. I vaporize cannabis, no smoke, no smell, no problems. I finished my third marathon at Big Sur Marathon in April 1st place in my division (TYVM) with a finish time of 3 hours, 25 minutes and 8 seconds. I’m just one of millions of health conscious Americans seeking the healthiest pathways forward in all aspects of my life. How long before the federal government quits lying to us and admits that cannabis is far safer than alcoholic beverages or tobacco?

    Legalize, regulate and tax!

    1. Legalize, regulate, and tax? The words of a wanton slave.
      Our servants have never had the authority to tell us what we can ingest in our bodies. You’ve got a ways to go before you reach reality.

    2. “How long before the federal government quits lying to us”

      dude no one on this planet has that much time left

  6. sure this isnt just a scare tactic , now that Canada is going full legalization ?

    I really dont have any personal data to pull from to give any legitimacy to this or not..ive never partaken in edibles …but in my teen years i sure have had my fill of smoke and never experienced any BS like this

  7. “Carroll said the side effects that the officers experienced are the very reason why the federal government is moving in stages and hesitating to make edibles widely legal at this point, other than by strict prescription.”

    The very BULLSH#T reason, you mean.


    Control & mammon extraction are the bottom line.

  8. N, N-Dimethyltryptamine is the psychedelic naturally occurring in the brain along with melatonin the moment especially when dozing off to sleep. Terrence McKenna died young. DMT

  9. A really potent edible can make the user feel like they’re tripping on acid and cause visual disturbances, especially if the user is inexperienced with them.

    That’s why smoking is preferable, because the dosage and effects are more controllable.

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