news & updates / July 18, 2002
 


 

the RAVE ACT (S2633) : help stop the Senate from banning raves!
07.18.02
transmission: email / website


 

We took a little time off after a hectic month June. When we got back we found a number of emails in our inbox concerning the RAVE Act (Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy). The Action Alert below came to us from DanceSafe. This bill has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is moving VERY rapidly through the Senate and could be passed any day now! Worse still, the Senate leadership considers this draconian drug war bill to be so uncontroversial that they are trying to pass it under "unanimous consent" rules, which will mean no debate and no real vote. It is absolutely vital that your Senators here from you today if you don't want to see this bill happen. This law is not only a danger to civil liberties, but also would effectively eliminate live electronic music in the US given the risks associated with holding events.

We apologize to anyone who's received this info already from another source. We don't like getting the same email 10 times as much as you. This one seems pretty important though. Read On...and hopefully we can still Rave On!

Oh, and before you even ask...there's no news to announce yet concerning this years Even Furthur festival. We'll have an update in the next couple weeks. We're working on the event, but honestly it's getting harder and harder to gather together every year. This pending bill doesn't help the situation much either! Please keep your fingers crossed for us as organizers and for everyone else who likes to participate in this little Midwest happening. Stay tuned.

 

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ACTION ALERT: STOP THE SENATE FROM BANNING RAVES
Property Rights and Right to Dance Under Attack

(A Drug Policy Alliance and DanceSafe Joint Action)

As you may know, a bill to give the federal government broad powers to shut down musical events they don't like is rapidly moving through the Senate, and could be voted on as early as this week. Many of our supporters have already called their Senators and asked them to oppose the bill, and we are very, very grateful. The second part of our campaign is to flood the Senate with faxes, and we need people just like you!

Take Action at: http://ga1.org/campaign/rave

IT IS URGENT THAT YOU ACT RIGHT AWAY. If the anti-rave Senate bill is enacted, businessmen and women could face severe fines and long prison sentences if they fail to prevent customers from using or selling drugs on their premises. Property owners may become too afraid to rent or lease their property to groups holding hemp festivals or putting on all-night dance parties, effectively stifling free-speech and banning raves and other musical events!! The new law also potentially subjects homeowners to enormous federal sentences if some of their guests use drugs at their party or barbecue.

ACTIONS TO TAKE

** Fax your Senators today. Go to http://ga1.org/campaign/rave for more info.

** Forward this alert to your friends, family, and co-workers.

** After you fax your Senators, please follow it up with phone calls. Tell them you just faxed them a letter in opposition to S.2633, the Reducing American's Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act. Tell them that innocent business owners shouldn't be punished for the crimes of their customers. Tell them this bill has dangerous anti-civil liberties provisions that they need to be aware of, and this bill deserves serious debate.

You can contact your Senators through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. To find out who your Senators are go to:
http://www.senate.gov/senators/senator_by_state.cfm

MORE INFORMATION

The Senate is considering legislation that would give federal prosecutors new powers to shut down raves or other musical events they don't like and punish businessmen and women for hosting or promoting them. The bill (S, 2633), also known as the Reducing American's Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act (RAVE Act), is moving very rapidly and could be considered by the full Senate as early as this week. (A similar bill is also pending in the House.) S. 2633, sponsored by Senators Durbin (D-IL), Hatch (R-UT), Grassley (R-IA) and Leahy (D-VT), expands the so-called "crack house statute" to allow the federal government to fine or imprison businessmen and women if customers sell or use drugs on their premises or at their events. Property owners, promoters, and event coordinators could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars or face up to twenty years in federal prison if they hold raves or other events on their property. If the bill becomes law, property owners may be too afraid to rent or lease their property to groups holding hemp festivals or putting on all-night dance parties, effectively stifling free-speech and banning raves and other musical events.

The new law would also make it a federal crime to temporarily use a place for the purpose of using any illegal drug. Thus, anyone who used drugs in their own home or threw an event (such as a party or barbecue) in which one or more of their guests used drugs could potentially face a $250,000 fine and years in federal prison. The bill also effectively makes it a federal crime to rent property to medical marijuana patients and their caregivers, giving the federal government a new weapon in its war on AIDS and cancer patients that use marijuana to relieve their suffering.

Health advocates worry 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, this bill may make business owners too afraid to implement such harm-reduction measures, and the safety of our kids will suffer.

The RAVE Act punishes businessmen and women for the crimes of their customers and is unprecedented in U.S. history. The federal government can't even keep drugs out of prisons, yet it seeks to punish business owners for failing to keep people from carrying drugs onto their premises. If this bill passes, federal authorities will have the ability to scare business owners away from using or renting their property for all-night dance events, as well as any other "politically incorrect" event.

For more information on this bill, go to
http://thomas.loc.gov/ and under "bill number" search for S2633.

If you have time read the comments at http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/7/6/195720/8241

For an analysis of the bill and to keep up to date on further developments visit the DanceSafe website at http://www.dancesafe.org

 

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The Facts on the Reducing Americans Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act of 2002 (The RAVE Act) (S.2633)

from the DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE (Formerly the Lindesmith Center & Drug Policy Foundation)

Overview:

S. 2633 (the RAVE Act) broadly expands Section 416(a) of the Controlled Substance Act (21 U.S.S. 856(a)), also known as the 'crack house statute', to allow the federal government to fine or imprison businessmen and women if customers or tenants sell, use, or manufacture drugs on their premises or at their events. Just introduced in the Senate on June 18th, the RAVE Act has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and could be voted on under unanimous consent rules very soon.

Essentially the bill modifies two sections of the 'crack house statute' to make it applicable to those who (1) knowingly open, lease, rent, use, any place either permanently or temporarily for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance, or (2) manage or control any place [building, room, or enclosure], whether permanently or temporarily, either as owner, lessee, agent, employee, occupant, or mortgagee, and knowingly and intentionally rent, lease, profit from, or make available for use, with or without compensation, the place [building, room, or enclosure] for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing, storing, distributing, or using a controlled substance. (Bold words are additions to statute, brackets are subtractions.)

The bill also gives federal prosecutors greater power to charge people civilly, rather than criminally, and provides for declaratory or injunctive relief.

What is Wrong with the RAVE Act?

Brief: The RAVE Act unfairly punishes businessmen and women for the crimes of their customers and is unprecedented in U.S. history. The federal government can't even keep drugs out of prisons, yet it seeks to punish business owners for failing to keep people from carrying drugs onto their premises. It is a danger to innocent businessmen and women, especially restaurant and nightclub owners, concert promoters, landlords, and real estate managers. Section 4 of the bill goes so far as to allow the federal government to charge property owners civilly, thus allowing prosecutors to fine property owners $250,000 (and put them out of business) without having to meet the higher standard of proof in criminal cases that is needed to protect innocent people.

Point-by-Point:

* The RAVE Act is too broadly written and could subject innocent business owners to enormous fines or prison sentences. While supporters of the bill claim that innocent business owners don't need to worry because it only applies to people that knowingly open, lease, rent, use or maintain a place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using a controlled substance, 'knowingly' and 'for the purpose of' are too undefined to provide adequate protection to innocent businessmen and women. A nightclub owner that decides to play music at his club knows that certain young people will probably use drugs while they dance to the music. Despite good security, the owner could potentially be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars and forced into bankruptcy. Because prosecutors could charge owners civilly under this law, the standard of proof is too low to adequately protect innocent property owners. The bill's addition of the word 'temporarily' undermines the very purpose of the 'crack house statute' which was targeting property that was being used primarily for drug offenses, not making property owners liable for isolated actions that occur on their property, whether they are there or not.

* The bill is so broadly written that individuals could potentially face 20-year sentences for using drugs at home. 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. Thus, anyone who used drugs in their own home or threw an event (such as a party or barbecue) in which one or more of their guests used drugs could potentially face a $500,000 fine and up to twenty years in federal prison. If the offense occurred at a hotel room or on a cruise ship, the owner of the property could also be potentially liable.

* The bill could endanger our nation's youth. If enacted, licensed and law-abiding business owners may stop hosting raves and other musical events, out of fear of massive fines and prison sentences. Thus, the RAVE Act will drive raves and other musical events further underground and away from public health and safety regulations. It would also discourage business owners from enacting important 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, this bill may make business owners too afraid to implement such harm-reduction measures, and the safety of our kids will suffer.

* The bill is a dangerous threat to free speech and the right to dance. Property owners, promoters, and event coordinators could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars or face up to twenty years in federal prison if they hold raves or other events on their property. If the bill becomes law, property owners may be too afraid to rent or lease their property to groups holding hemp festivals, all-night dance parties, rock concerts, or any other event rightly or wrongly perceived as attracting drug users (essentially any event that attracts a young crowd.)

* The bill punishes property owners that rent to people following state law. The bill effectively makes it a federal crime to rent property to medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. While those using or providing marijuana are prosecutable under federal law, this bill would make any property owner that leased or rented property to such people also liable for their offenses.

* Passage of the Senate bill would give momentum to a similar House bill (HR 3782) that is even more broadly written. That bill declares that 'Whoever knowingly promotes any rave , dance, music, or other entertainment event, that takes place under circumstances where the promoter knows or reasonably ought to know that a controlled substance will be used or distributed in violation of Federal law or the law of the place were the event is held, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned for not more than 9 years, or both.'

What Should Senators Do?

The RAVE Act is a danger to property rights, civil liberties, and the well being of our nation's youth in any form and Senators should vote against it. However, there are a number of actions Senators can take (short of voting against the bill) to reduce the harm it could cause:

Most importantly, we need Senators to put 'holds' on the bill and get it off the UC fast track. This bill deserves serious debate, and should go through the normal legislative process.

This bill is quietly moving through the Senate and almost no one knows about it or its dangerous implications. We need Senators to speak out.

Senators should try to amend the bill to narrow its application, protect innocent business owners, and protect the rights of ordinary Americans. In particular, 'for the purpose' clauses need to be modified to protect innocent business owners and prevent them from being punished for the crimes of their customers, when they are in no way involved in them. 'Intentional' and/or 'primary' should be added, so that it reads 'for the intentional and primary purpose of'. This will protect business owners who didn't intend (or want) their place of business to be used as a forum for committing drug offenses. It will also prevent them from being punished for isolated incidents, rather than the more appropriate pattern of abuse. (The original purpose of the crack house statute was meant to target property that was primarily being used as a place to manufacture, sell or use drugs). The word 'use' needs to be dropped from the bill's addition of 'lease, rent, use'. The original intent of the crack house statute was to target drug traffickers who were using their property to commit major drug offenses. Under this new language, any one who uses any place (their apartment, motel room, park) to use an illegal drug could potentially be subject to 20 years in jail and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Federal law already provides for punishment of drug users. The RAVE Act would enact penalties out of line with the actual offense.

Section 4 should be repealed entirely. This section allows the federal government to bring civil suits (as opposed to criminal charges) against businessmen and women they accuse of violating the statute. Civil suits have a low standard of proof and are inappropriate for very serious offenses. If federal prosecutors believe property owners have broken the law, they should file criminal charges and prove their case in front of a jury, not bankrupt them with lawsuit after lawsuit.

The bill should be amended to specifically note that implementing measures to protect the health and well being of their customers does not indicate that business owners are condoning or encouraging drug use. Such measures should not be used against business owners that adopt them. This is a crucial amendment, because the current bill will likely scare business owners from engaging in the kind of activities that could save the lives of our children n making sure water is freely available, having ambulances or paramedics on call, providing a room in which dancers can cool off, etc.

The bill should also be amended to provide that business owners should not be punished for any legal activities that their customers engage in, such as dancing, massaging each other's back, wearing a pacifier, having certain color hair, etc. This is crucial because federal prosecutors are already declaring that allowing such activities or such people on their premises is proof that business owners are encouraging drug use. Business owners shouldn't be punished for opening their doors to the public (and letting anyone in, no matter what they wear) or allowing their customers to engage in perfectly legal activities.


DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE
(Formerly the Lindesmith Center & Drug Policy Foundation)
Washington Office
925 15th Street NW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20005

Phone: 202-216-0035 / Fax: 202-216-0803

http://www.drugpolicy.org