A huge debate was sparked last year after a 15-year-old girl overdosed on Ecstasy and died at Electric Daisy Carnival, an annual music festival and party that many would classify as a rave. Since then, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has taken a zero-tolerance policy on drugs. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, though, issued fliers and postcards at two recent parties with information on Ecstasy use. The flier includes information on the drug itself, potential side effects and harms, and ways to minimize such risks when taking the drug. When the Board of Supervisors caught wind of this, Chairman Michael Antonovich issued a directive to the Department of Public Health stating that the fliers be immediately revised to explicitly state that illegal drug use is not condoned, permitted, nor promoted by the county. The DPH is complying with the request and will issue new information cards soon. But the question (very similar to the one raised in the abstinence only vs. comprehensive sex education debate) remains: when taking a zero-tolerance policy, should the county withhold information about Ecstasy that could save lives? When it comes down to it, is there harm in educating the public on ways to more safely participate in recreational drug use?
Nathan Messer, President of the Board, Dance Safe
*Statement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health:
"The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has developed a harm-reduction messaging card addressing the harmful affects of ecstasy, and providing potentially life-saving information to avoid drug overdose for those individuals who choose to use this illegal drug. This card was developed out of recommendations by a task force consisting of representatives from local cities, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, electronic music festival promoters and other key stakeholders. This task force was convened at the request of the Board of Supervisors in July 2010 to enhance rave safety.
The card is funded by electronic music festival promoters, and distribution is intended solely at events for attendees, who should be over the age of 18, per task force guidelines. Along with harm-reduction messaging, this card states ecstasy use should be avoided. However, based on feedback from Board members and upon further review by the department, Public Health is immediately revising the card to further and more emphatically state that illegal drug use is dangerous. Public Health does not condone the use of illegal drugs."