Calgary EDM Festival Chasing Summer Criticized for Banning Naloxone Kits

BY Josiah HughesPublished Aug 4, 2017

Thanks to the rise in substances like fentanyl and carfentanil, opioid-related overdoses have reached alarming highs in Canada. To counter the crisis, a number of communities have banded together to raise awareness and promote the use of naloxone kits, which are potentially life-saving. A Calgary EDM festival, however, is drawing criticism for their decision to ban the kits.

The annual Chasing Summer Festival is set to return to Calgary this weekend, bringing a massive roster of dance artists to the Max Bell Centre. The fest has had issues with over-consumption in the past — 10 attendees were hospitalized for drug and alcohol overdoses in 2016, with 17 hospitalized for the same reasons the year before.

Despite those numbers, however, Global reports that Chasing Summer's organizers will not allow attendees to bring their own naloxone kits despite requests from Alberta Health Services.

Dr. Joanna Oda, a medical officer of health for AHS, said the organization had asked Chasing Summer to change their policy. "We've advised music festivals to encourage their attendees to pick up naloxone kits — the antidote to opioid overdoses — and bring those to areas where they might be using or planning on using," she told Global.

Colin Mathie, director of health and safety for Chasing Summer, argued that they'd rather keep attendees' safety in their own hands. "Given our onsite medical resources and commitment to the health and welfare of all our fans, we want to ensure that only trained medical professionals administer medications to third parties, so we do not permit guests to carry private naloxone kits within festival grounds," he told Global.

Still, a 2016 attendee named Klayre Cramer said that she witnessed a number of people in medical distress thanks to widespread drug use at the festival last year. "Medical staff couldn't really keep it under control," she said. "Me and my friends actually had to bring some people to the medical tent because no one was assisting them."

Chasing Summer takes place on August 5 and 6, and includes performances from Tiësto and Zedd.

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