DPA ADVISORY: "RAVE" BILL
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The Senate is poised to pass legislation that would give federal prosecutors new powers to shut down raves, concerts, and other events. If enacted, business owners could face severe fines and long prison sentences if they failed to prevent customers from using or selling drugs on their premises or at their concert or other events. The proposed law also potentially subjects homeowners to enormous fines and sentences if some of their guests use drugs at their party or barbecue. The bill, known as the Reducing American's Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act (RAVE Act), was introduced in the Senate on June 18th and has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is moving very rapidly and could be passed by the Senate by the end of next week. (A similar bill is pending in the House.)
"The proposed RAVE Act is a serious threat to property rights, free speech, and even the right to dance," said Bill McColl, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "If this bill passes almost any bar owner, concert promoter, or landlord could potentially face costly civil suits and jail time."
Health advocates warn that the bill will endanger our nation's youth. If enacted, licensed and law-abiding business owners may stop hosting raves or other events that federal authorities don't like, out of fear of massive fines and prison sentences. Thus, the law would drive raves and other musical events further underground and away from public health and safety regulations. It would also discourage business owners from enacting smart harm-reduction measures to protect their customers. By insinuating that selling bottled water and offering "cool off" rooms is proof that owners and promoters know drug use is occurring at their events, the bill may make business owners too afraid to implement such harm-reduction measures, and the safety of our kids will suffer.
"By scaring business owners with lawsuits and criminal sanctions this bill is endangering the safety of young people, " said Daniel Abrahamsom, Director of Legal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Even widely-accepted, common sense safety steps, such as ensuring an adequate supply of water at a dance club or having ambulances available at large concert venues could be used as evidence against innocent businessmen."
Opponents of the bill note that it has many concerning implications:
* It is too broadly written and could subject innocent business owners to enormous fines or prison sentences.
* As currently written, the proposed law would make it a federal crime to temporarily use a place for the purpose of using any illegal drug. Anyone who used drugs in the privacy of their own home or threw a party or barbecue in which one or more guests used drugs could potentially face $500,000 in fines and up to 20-years in jail.
* It endangers our nation's youth by discouraging business owners from enacting harm-reduction measures and by driving raves and other musical events into underground markets.
Drug Policy Alliance is the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs and promote new drug policies based on common sense, science, public health and human rights. The Alliance, headquartered in New York City, has offices in Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Washington, DC and Santa Fe, New Mexico.