August 6, 2014 4:28 am
Updated: August 6, 2016 2:09 am

B.C. medical officer concerned over drug deaths at music festivals


WATCH: After several deaths at music festival around the country, what should be done about so-called ‘party drugs’? Julia Foy reports.

Should B.C. change their approach to regulating “party drugs” at music festivals?

“We don’t seem persuade people to stop taking the pills,” laments Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

“People who take them run a risk because they don’t know what they’re getting, or what the components or dosage is.”

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Lynn Tolocka, a 24-year-old from Leduc, Alberta, collapsed and died from a suspected drug overdose during the Boonstock festival in Penticton last weekend. Last month, a 21-year-old man died at the Pemberton Musical Festival, where testing is still underway to determine cause of death.

READ MORE: Boonstock overdose victim identified

“People may think these party drugs aren’t drugs are addictive, they’re safe drugs,” says coroner Barb McLintock.

“They’re not safe drugs, because of people’s individual reactions, and they’re basically made by chemists at home, and you don’t know how good your chemist is.”

With the Squamish Valley Music Festival taking place this weekend, McLintock is warning people to stay hydrated.

“Some of the rave drugs, ecstasy in particular, the problems can exacerbated if you get dehydrated or very hot. And when you think about how hot it was last weekend, and maybe this weekend, the chances of heat making things worse are very high.”

Kendall says an experiment underway in New Zealand, where manufacturers can create synthetic drugs for “legal highs” if they’ve been clinically tested, is worth watching.

“Their concept was, if they can do that for alcohol, maybe we can do that for psychoactive drugs that are mildly stimulant…but where an appropriate dose won’t kill anybody.”

Kendall says anyone feeling sick or lightheaded during this weekend’s festival in Squamish should head to a medical tent right away.

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