13 people from around the country attending a Coil to the Soil rally in the village of High Melton in Doncaster had to go to hospital at around 7 pm on Saturday 24 August 2019. Two received treatment at the scene. It’s believed these folk consumed cake spiked with cannabis. The event centred around metal detection.

Uproar ensued at a gathering of metal detector enthusiasts in Doncaster when cake though to contain cannabis was given out. Photo: Andrew Malone

Uproar ensued at a gathering of metal detector enthusiasts in Doncaster when cake though to contain cannabis was given out. Photo: Andrew Malone

Quick! Dial 999!

Someone dialled 999 just over half an hour before. Eight vehicles from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, a police rapid response vehicle and an NHS hazardous area response team, customarily concerned with bioterrorism, arrived.

Singing, dancing, laughing and then “dropping like flies”

One attendee, Craig Allison, told how he and a friend accepted a piece of homemade chocolate birthday cake. They then “carried on our merry way”. The cake was never sold. Later, however, he began to feel dizzy, which he put down to exerting himself in the sun. He expected his condition to relent, but instead he collapsed. Other people indulged in singing, dancing and laughing, but some collapsed. A paramedic informed Allison that “people were dropping like flies”. Allison himself slipped in and out of consciousness. Some of the 13 people carted off to hospital had never previously taken drugs and feared they were suffering heart attacks or even dying.

Happy 50th birthday

The cake was for a man present at the event who was celebrating his 50th birthday. It was he who doled it out, but Allison, a friend, doesn’t hold him responsible. (“I don’t blame him, by the way.”) The birthday-celebrater was unaware of the cake containing anything out of the ordinary. A spokesman for Coil to the Soil declared that “People could have died”. He added that, while 13 people had to go to hospital, it was fortunate that no children or people taking medication for severe health problems ate the cake.

A Faceache post by Treasure Hunting Magazine described the actions of the person doing the spiking as “irresponsible, stupid and foolish”. It offered sympathy to those affected. The editor, however, did not believe this “dreadful incident” was malevolent – it was merely “an irresponsible, poorly thought out joke.” He commented that it was was “just a case of random lunacy” and unconnected with the hobby of those involved.

Police questioned a 48-year-old woman who lives in County Durham and released her on bail. The hospital discharged all 13 people, with Allison remarking that matters could have been “far more serious.” It’s believed that synthetic cannabis, better known as spice, found its way into the cake. It has been speculated that it was in the form of oil. The Yorkshire Ambulance Service called it “an unknown substance.” A police spokeswoman announced that “An investigation is underway”. Legend speaks of a similar happening at one family’s birthday celebration in Melbourne in Strilya earlier in the year, the result of a prank by a man in his 20s.

The Doncaster Cannabis Club has staged events in the past that attracted “very little interest”. This occasion is unlikely to sway anyone’s opinion.

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