As the end of July approaches the hype for WayHome music festival, located in Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, continues to build. With outstanding headlining acts like Flume, Louis the Child, Imagine Dragons, Mashmello, Frank Ocean, Porter Robinson, Solange, Mura Masa, Foster the People, festival goers are counting down the days to party and go-hard during the three day festival starting on July 28, 2017. Although most are excited for the opportunity to let loose, one Ottawa resident is concerned that the upcoming event’s decision to ban Naloxone could potentially be deadly. For those unaware, Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.
Maegan Mason inquired with the event’s organisation if she could bring her naloxone kit as it was not clearly stated on the official website; she was surprisingly informed that she could not. They continued to explained that the medical team are “well aware” of naloxone, however the audience will not be granted access through the festival’s gates with the kits in their possession.
“I really assumed I would be all right to bring it. I was a little bit surprised. This is life-saving medication” -Mason expressed.
The WayHome event coordinators have dismissed all incoming inquiries from CBC News about their policy on naloxone. The fact that the upcoming festival is ignoring the severe issue of opioid overdose on the rise in Ontario, with statistics indicating 700 emergency room visits in the first half of 2017 in Ottawa and 2 opioid-related deaths in Ontario every day, is very alarming – especially because they have yet to confirmed what their current policies in place are for the medical staff in relation to the use of naloxone. Mason has confirmed that WayHome has lumped the reasoning with it being categorized with “drug paraphernalia”.
Several big-named music festivals, including Shambhala and Escapade, have supported the use of drug testing kits and opioid antidotes as it has been proven to save lives. Other official websites for Osheaga and RBC’s Ottawa Bluesfest have also made it clear that no “drug paraphernalia” will be allowed; however, they do not clarify whether that includes naloxone kits.
In the past Mason has lived a frightening experience of witnessing an individual suffering from an overdose during Osheaga. This occasion inspired her to pursue naloxone training during which she was informed that naloxone comes in either nasal or injectable forms. Ashley Brambles, a project officer employed at Ottawa Public Health, has insisted,
“Festivalgoers who choose to use drugs should remember to carry naloxone”
Mason, and now many others have become frustrated as many events seem to be lumping “drug paraphernalia” with “opioid antidotes”. Moving forward we hope that festivals, whether they are large or small, will take note that there needs to be a clear and efficient distinction between the two and to also note that miniscule, yet important gestures: like allowing the nasal spray, will decrease the frustrations and potential incidents.
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