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Inmates at Maple Ridge prison poisoned by hallucinogenic plant
Twelve inmates from a Maple Ridge women's prison were taken to hospital Sunday after they ate a hallucinogenic plant.
The women ingested seeds from Angel's Trumpet, a noxious fragrant flowering plant, which they found on the grounds of the provincial prison off 248th Street.
The first inmate was spotted by corrections officers "under the influence of a substance and hallucinating" around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, prompting an investigation that revealed she wasn't the only inmate who had eaten the plant.
All the inmates spent the night in hospital. The last inmate returned to the prison at 9 a.m. Monday.
“It is B.C. Corrections’ number one priority to maintain a safe and secure environment for staff and inmates," said spokesperson Marnie Mayhew.
"Any injury or use of a substance in this manner is a great concern, and we are taking this incident very seriously."
B.C. Corrections removed all traces of Angel's Trumpet from the grounds but are also searching the prison grounds for other plants that might have hallucinogenic properties. The grounds of eight other provincial prisons are also being checked.
"Despite available supports and strict protocols, people with addictions will take extraordinary measures in an attempt to become intoxicated," said Mayhew.
"It is important to note that this is the first time a situation like this has ever occurred in the history of any of our correctional centres.”
Angel's Trumpet, also known as tree datura (genus Brugmansia) has a long history of shamanic use in South America. Drinking a tea made from the plants or eating its seeds produces hallucinations, but they often progress to extremely unpleasant experiences.
Ingesting the plant can be also deadly as it quickens the heart rate. Symptoms also include confusion and delirium followed by drowsiness.