Should the City Cancel Moonrise to Prevent Drug Overdoses?

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Moonrise Festival

Two people died of apparent drug overdoses at Mad Decent Block Party, an electronic dance music festival, at its Merriweather Post Pavilion stop last Friday. Some 19 others were hospitalized.

The tragedy has moved anti-drug advocate Mike Gimbel to call for the city to cancel the upcoming Moonrise Festival, slated for Saturday and Sunday at Pimlico.

The city balked at the idea. “It’s short-sighted to say that because of a handful of individuals that are choosing to act dangerously that we should punish the thousands of people who are slated to turn out for this event,” Kevin Harris, spokesman for the mayor’s office, told the Baltimore Sun.

That reasoning sounds fair. What can organizers do but exercise due diligence?

But Moonrise has its own history of irresponsibility to account for. The event is organized by Steez Promo. The group’s president, Evan Weinstein, not only organized the disastrous Maryland Bacon Festival but also promoted the now-defunct Baltimore rave festival Starscape, which in 2012 “allowed 14,000 people to attend a concert with a permit for 7,500″ and was the site of “an unspecified number of drug overdoses.” Last year’s Moonrise Festival was canceled three weeks before the event date after organizers failed to get a necessary permit.

Then again, as Sun writer Wesley Case pointed out, Weinstein had promoted several EDM events before 2012’s Starscape that were executed “without issue.” And, infact, Steez Promo put together the “trouble-free” Skrillex show at Pimlico in June. So hopefully, those other events were anomalous.

Weinstein told the Baltimore Sun that “safety has been our number one priority from the very beginning of our event planning.” To that end, he has promised 32 private paramedics at Moonrise.


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  1. My reason for calling for the cancellation of tomorrows concert was more about the fact that I believe there may be some bad “Molly” being sold and it may be the dangerous synthetic drug “bath salts”. This was true at a EDM concert in Boston where several died and it turned out to be Bath Salts. I used my share of drugs and went to hundreds of concerts but never saw kids die like this before. Something is going on and its just not kids taking Molly. The only guaranteed way to prevent any deaths or OD was to cancel the concert until we figure out what is really being sold. I’m not just grandstanding. I care about these kids. Mike Gimbel

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