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Anti-Drug Advocates Want Moonrise Festival Canceled In Wake Of Recent Fatalities

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The stages are set for "Moonrise," a festival which will bring thousands to Baltimore this weekend.

It happens in wake of two deaths and more than a dozen hospitalizations at a different electronic dance music festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion just days ago.

Investigator Mike Hellgren explains why anti-drug advocates are calling to cancel the event.

"We don't have people usually die at concerts. They're dying all over the country. This is a health epidemic," said substance abuse expert Mike Gimbel.

That includes overdoses at a recent EDM event in New Jersey and deaths in Las Vegas, New York and Boston.

Police have attributed some of the problems to "Molly," a powdered form of ecstasy that organizers could not keep out of Merriweather despite extra security.

"It kind of zombiefied me. It was really bad. I just kind of laid in my bed all day, didn't want to get up," said one person who has experienced the substance.

While Baltimore's mayor calls the Merriweather deaths tragic, she will not cancel Moonrise.

"I think that would be overreaction. The smart thing to do is to learn from the incident," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Moonrise organizers issued a statement to WJZ that safety is their number one priority and they will have doctors on duty at all times.

"With regard to specific personnel and resources at the event, we will have multiple physicians, 32 private EMTs, and ALS ambulances on duty at all times. We have developed strategies to deploy our private safety resources, as well as City-provided emergency support, in an efficient and effective manner. Additionally, we have made sure patrons have access to plenty of free water, as well as misting tents and cool down areas. As with any large event, we will continue to review and if necessary, adjust our safety protocols and policies throughout the duration of the Moonrise Festival."

Baltimore City took a different position with another EDM event called "Starscape," ending it in 2012, according to published reports, after overwhelming medical calls.

Gimbel says the city's response is not enough.

"It blew me away. It was so irresponsible. I'm saying, let's prevent it. Let's save a life," he said.

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