Following the news that the NSW government would seek to shut down festivals following an alleged MDMA incident at Field Day, a leading emergency doctor has come forward saying their plan will only exacerbate the problem.
Dr David Caldicott is an emergency consultant in the emergency department at Calvary Hospital in Canberra. He says the proposed ‘reforms’ for festivals put forward by Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant is based in an outdated ideology of drug prohibition, similar to climate change denialism.
Dr Caldicott is a founding member of The List,a politically independent group of experts committed to shedding light on the truth of the drug debate in Australia, and he is also on the expert database for the Australian Science Media Centre on issues of illicit drug use. Commenting on the recent statements made by the NSW government, Dr Caldicott said “What will happen is that these festivals will go ahead, they just won’t go ahead in any sort of supervised environment“.
“You’ll get what happened in the United States in the 1980s which was a wide variety of unsupervised raves and a vast number of people getting hurt and killed”
Following the hospitalisation of one 23 year old woman allegedly caused by MDMA at Field Day, as well as 183 arrests on drug related charges, Premier Mike Baird had declared “Enough was enough“, and that relevant minsters would be involved in reviewing the current festival regulations system. Drumming up plenty of drama in his address, Premier Baird said “If new rules and procedures place additional burdens and costs on organisers, so be it — and we will also examine denying permits to organisers who have not done the right thing in the past.”
Comparing the call to shut down festivals as “the last dying throes of prohibitionists” Dr Caldicott has maintained that pill-testing and other measures can be taken to keep festival goers safe rather than holding festival organisers accountable for the actions of a select few. “There are so many other things that are far more intelligent that we can do before banning music festivals. It’s right up there with police dogs as an idea – it’s unlikely to have any effect whatsoever and it’s probably going to cause more deaths. So at least law enforcement in NSW is being consistent.”
“At the moment, the health policy in Australia is create a drug-free Australia, which is ludicrous. It’s never happened anywhere else in the world, why do we personally believe it could possibly happen in Australia where more people are using drugs per capita than many places elsewhere in the world? It’s kind of like the drug equivalent of climate change denialism. The politicians are concerned about how it appears to a very vocal group of prohibitionists.”
The incidents at Field Day are the latest in a series of drug related episodes in the last few months. Sylvia Choi and Stefan Woodward both passed away after ingesting MDMA at the Sydney and Adelaide legs of Stereosonic in December last year respectively. Since the state government’s announcement there has been met with much outcry from the community, particularly from the Presets’ Kim Moyes.
You can watch Dr Caldicott give an extensive talk on the use of illicit drugs in the video below.
Story first seen in the Sydney Morning Herald.