What I believe

After researching the fierce debate over whether or not all electronic music festivals should have a minimum admission age of 21-plus, I have come to the conclusion that event promoters should not change existing rules and regulations in regards to age, as it would not solve the public health issues that have been at stake throughout the past couple of years.

Instead of focusing on who and who isn’t allowed at these events, people should shift their focus to the main underlying issue- drug abuse, and how to prevent people of all ages from the many dangers of it especially at electronic music festivals. As many people refrain from promoting drug education and harm reduction due to the fear that it encourages drug use, they have turned to the alternative of restricting legal adults of their basic rights that go as simply as enjoying music. This further restriction would only add more of a reason for people to rebel.

Although supporters argue that people over the age of 21 are much more mature and responsible than attendees who are over 18, what many people seem to ignore is that there have been many overdoses from people who were over 21 at electronic music festivals. To be more specific, in the year of 2015 alone there at least three fatalities from attendees ranging from 22 to 24 years old-each drug related. At TomorrowWorld, a strictly 21-and-up music festival held in Atlanta, Georgia, a 22-year-old male fatally overdosed on MDMA. At Beyond Wonderland, an 18-and-up music festival in San Bernardino, California, a 22-year-old UC Irvine senior died after having a seizure on MDMA as well. At Electric Daisy Carnival, an 18-and-up electronic music festival held in Las Vegas, Nevada, a 24-year-old man ingested a fatal dose of the drug Ecstasy, according to an article written by the Los Angeles Times. These tragic events clearly demonstrate that the safety of people at these events go beyond age and into an issue that needs to be solved by more than just “raising the minimum age.”

In order to create a safe environment for all attendees, America need to make a drastic shift in the way the country thinks and talks about drugs. In an ideal world, prevention would be the best solution, but realistically, officials and leaders need to understand that drugs will always be around and available. Whether dancing at a fairground or going to a party at a friend’s house, anyone can choose to take drugs. Officials need to accept the fact that people are going to do drugs no matter what punitive system is in place, and take a non-judgmental approach to minimizing risk. Although The Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, or Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, passed by Congress in 2003, allows authorities to prosecute event organizers and venue owners for facilitating the use or distribution of controlled substances on their premises, it is counterproductive in the way that many promoters have stopped providing cool down rooms and free water, fearing it would send an image of encouraging drug use. However, this fear has potentially prevented countless lives from being saved.

There are many different ways that promoters can go about enforcing drug education. For example, there could be a mandatory online drug-education course following the purchase of a rave ticket. Also, festivals could partner up with organizations such as DanceSafe, which provides free drug testing and water to individual. DanceSafe has been seen at festivals such as Lightning in a Bottle.

At the end of the day, the fatalities from the many attendees have happened from drug abuse, not age. Clearly a change in the minimum age requirement will not solve the issue as effectively as viewing it in a nonjudgemental perspective and thinking “outside of the box” for solutions.

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