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Calls For A Rethinking On The War On Drugs After Another Death At A Music Festival

Written by Mitch Feltscheer on November 29, 2015

Discussion on the effectiveness of the local war on drugs has flared up again in the wake of a 25 year old woman overdosing at Stereosonic Music Festival in Sydney overnight, with many calling out the heavy police presence as a negative impact.

Police have since released a predictable statement which heavily points the finger at drug users and the drug culture in music industry with Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli saying “I think we have to get [to] the mentality of drug culture and music festivals. We’ve got to change it. There’s no such thing as safe drugs. You’re playing Russian roulette with your life.”

“I can honestly tell you that if I had more police dogs and more police, it’d just result in more people being arrested,” he also said on the police’s presence at Stereo, which although seems to reference the effect of cops and sniffer dogs on music festival attendees, doesn’t appear to show police are re-thinking their approach.

Elsewhere ER doctor and drug harm minimisation advocate Dr David Caldicott has spoken to Triple J’s Hack, saying he is sad and angry at another music festival overdose, but makes a plea for changing strategies on how we deal with drug use.

“There has got to be a better way and as long as young people are dying from this in Australia, we’re doing something wrong. The answer isn’t simply, in some sort of paternalistic way, to turn around and tell an entire community they’re naughty for using drugs, because they are going to use drugs.”

Caldicott’s plan to shift towards harm minimisation as opposed to harsh laws and penalties seems to be a much smarter way to start talking about drug use and the music industry, which is safe to say will never be void of illegal drugs, however some are simply calling for decriminalisation at large.

A Newtown law firm Dowson Turco has posted to Facebook today, calling for drugs to even be legalised, in order to lessen its impact on users.

“It’s awful waking up to news that a young girl died at Stereosonic and another is in an induced coma. It is heartbreaking and we are mad that junk is being sold to unwitting customers. But this is just another example of prohibition being ineffective and a waste of money.

If drugs were decriminalised – or even legalised – we are of the view that (based on evidence) less people would be harmed, less people would take drugs, drugs would be cleaner, money wouldn’t be wasted on police, consumers would be better informed and the courts wouldn’t be clogged up with drug possession offences.”

Whilst decriminalisation seems like a ways off, we desperately need to change the discourse from immediately vilifying drug users and throwing more cops and sniffer dogs at a problem which seems to be getting worse.

For the deaths to stop, we need an overhaul of the strategies implemented in the so-called war on drugs.


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  • Bread West

    Make alcoholic drinks cheaper at these events. A $20 pill versus $14 for each drink. Considering throughout the day someone wishes to consume 10 mid strength spirit drinks. $140 for alcohol plus outrageous drink queues and toilet queues or $40 for ecstasy and $5 for a water bottle. Maybe the answer is affordability for young people. Pushing alcohol prices up and up seems to make the drug side way more inviting.

    • Shane Pike

      There shouldn’t be Alcohol at these events. Alcohol causes SHOCKING levels of “rage attacks” & is NOT a SAFE DRUG AT ALL!!!
      Patrons SHOULD be able to take MDMA which is 100% non-toxic & has NEVER killed ANYBODY, EVER.
      The LD50 of REAL MDMA has NEVER been reached. The LD50 of water is 7 litres. The LD50 of Alcohol is 17 standard drinks within one hour.
      LD50 is the dose that kills 50% of their users.

      • Bread West

        Great work Shane, so no alcohol and no mdma because mdma is illegal. Hmmm great way of rethinking the war on drugs. Yes alcohol is a drug but it is legal and can be tolerated at these events with proper RSA, security and police presence. Have you ever had a rage attack on mid strength alcohol at a festival? Angry people will be angry no matter what. Time to go back to Facebook and get your medical facts and news so you can go troll more anti drug pages.

        • Shane Pike

          I am an Industrial Chemist & I have a Masters degree in Pharmacology. I think I know my “Medical Facts”. People like you need to ACTUALLY listen to REAL DRUG EXPERTS such as myself.
          Maybe YOU need to go back to School & learn some REAL Science.

          • Bread West

            Go and “like” some more of your posts and congrats on the degrees.

          • Shane Pike

            I will & Thankyou. lol.

  • VimFuego

    As a regular Soundwave attendee I see plenty of booze being drunk and that is about it, not much in the way of police wandering around either.
    Frank Mennilli is almost right though, there seems to be a bigger drug culture at dance festivals, not music festivals in general.

  • Shane Pike

    It is VERY well known that it’s the sheer stupidity of “The War Against Drugs” that does ALL of the destroying.

    EACH & EVERY SINGLE DEATH is the responsibility AND the fault of the moron Government Ministers who perpetuate this STUPID ‘War” & especially it’s the fault of the feral Cops who enforce it.

    ALL Cops who are involved in “Anti Drug Activities” have blood on their hands. They are WAR CRIMINALS & SHOULD be treated as such.
    They SHOULD be treated just as the Nazis were after WWII.
    Both groups, Cops & Nazis, were & are FALSELY under the impression that they can explain their behaviour by saying “i’m just doing my job”.

    By now Police SHOULD know better & I DO NOT accept that they STILL don’t know better.

    It was the presence of POLICE at the Venues that caused the patrons to panic & then take too much PMA (Paramethoxyamphetamine) that was mis-advertised as the completely harmless MDMA (otherwise known as “Ecstasy”) & hence, they TRAGICALLY died.
    NOBODY can reasonably deny that it was the sight of Police that caused the poor patrons to panic then “preload” themselves to death.

    If the families of the dead people want someone to blame, it’s the dumb feral Cops who FULL ON deserve a good “KICK IN THE ASS”.

    These deaths & EVERY death at Music venues where Police were present is 100% the fault AND responsibility of Police. If Police do the crime, it’s about time the dimwits DID THE TIME. After all, stupidity is NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER.

    Police are guilty of no less than NEGLIGENT MANSLAUGHTER.
    The Cops who were at these Music events where people preloaded & subsequently died MUST be brought to Justice.

    Their “Commanders” MUST be also be brought to Justice, as they CANNOT POSSIBLY be unaware that Police looking for Drugs at Music venues KILLS.

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