After investigating six drug overdoses at two separate Boston concert venues, the Boston Licensing Board ruled on Thursday that the House of Blues and Bank of America Pavilion were not responsible for the incidents and did nothing worthy of a legal penalty.
“There was nothing the licensee could have done to have prevented this,” said Nicole Ferrer, chairwoman of the board. “They had a [security] plan that seemed very efficient … so I have [found] no violation.”
Three people overdosed at each location in August. One of them, caused by overconsumption of the popular club drug Molly, resulted in the death of a 19-year-old student from the University of New Hampshire at the House of Blues.
Live Nation, who speaks on behalf of both venues, declined to comment on the decision.
The overdoses primarily involved Molly, known as the stimulant drug MDMA. However, ketamine, a tranquilizer, and lysergic acid, also known as the hallucinogen LSD, were also documented as parts of the dismissed violations.
Sharon Levy, director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, said overdoses on drugs such as Molly often involve young adults trying something for the first time without knowing how their bodies will react.
“There’s no such thing as safe experimentation with illicit drugs,” she said. “There’s this rumor out there that Molly is safer because it’s a purer form of MDMA, and it turns out that’s false. It’s no purer than the ecstasy from years ago and you’re never going to know what you’re going to get from any illicit substance anyway. It’s just not safe.”
Several residents said there was not much the House of Blues or the Pavilion could have done to prevent the overdoses.
Annie Murray, 50, a data researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital from Boston, said the only effective way to prevent drug overdoses was to make sure people are more aware of the possible side effects.
“It’s a good thing they [the venues] got off,” she said. “If there’s a problem, it’s mostly on the kids. There needs to be more public education so these kids know what they’re getting into. You have no idea when your friends are pushing you to do something, but if they know early on [about] these side effects, it doesn’t have to happen.
Caitlin Rooke, 22, resident of Allston studying at Simmons College, said the venues should have undergone some form of disciplinary action, but the biggest fault was still with the people abusing the drugs.
“People just don’t know what they’re doing,” she said. “They’re getting drugs from people where they don’t know how pure something is. They’re not staying hydrated, and they’re getting hurt because of it. I don’t think it’s fair though. Places have been shut down in other places for the same thing, so just because it’s a big name, they shouldn’t get off.”
George Williams, 71, resident of Roxbury, said the venues were completely blameless unless they blatantly allowed someone in with drugs.
“It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the owners of the clubs,” he said. “If someone took a drug and then got on the bus, is that a problem with the MBTA [Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority]? No … Anything that gives an altered mental state, if somebody wants to use it, they’ll find it. Nothing’s new under the sun with this. It’s just different people.”