WayHome backs down from naloxone ban
Music festival drew criticism after telling Ottawa woman she could not bring anti-overdose kit
An Ontario music festival has reversed a policy that would have banned attendees from bringing their own injectable naloxone kits to events.
Organizers for the WayHome Music and Arts Festival, taking place this weekend near Barrie, Ont., say they changed their policy after hearing concerns from those who planned to attend.
Patrons will now be able to trade syringes of the opioid overdose antidote for a nasal spray that has the same effect.
WayHome's previous policy didn't allow attendees to bring their own naloxone kits at all. Instead, organizers said medical staff on site would be the only people carrying the antidote.
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Ottawa resident Maegan Mason was the first person to publicly sound the alarm bell over WayHome's initial ban. When she heard the ban had been altered, she was shocked.
"I was speechless, I couldn't believe it," said Mason. "It shocks me to think that me speaking up about something caused such a ripple effect."
The change in rules is a compromise. Festival organizers weren't opposed to having naloxone on site, but because they had concerns over safety issues with the syringe version of the overdose medication, they had banned all versions of the antidote.
"In an effort to meet the concerns of those in possession of injectable naloxone kits, we will now be offering the spray in exchange for the injectable alternative at the gate," festival spokesman Todd Jenereaux said Tuesday.
Naloxone is an antidote to the powerful opioid fentanyl, a drug responsible for a growing number of overdose-related deaths. Fentanyl is sometimes found mixed with other drugs like cocaine.
With potential overdoses in store for this weekend at WayHome, Mason said she will feel more secure knowing the antidote is mixed in with the crowd.
"I think everyone is just going to feel safe and more people are going to feel even more inclined to bring nalaxone cause they know they can bring it. It's all around a really good solution."
With files from the Canadian Press