Penalizing Raves, Festivals and Parties
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
The U.S. Senate has been considering bill 2633, the Reducing American's Vulnerability to Ecstasy (R.A.V.E.) Act, which would stifle marijuana rallies and similar events. The bill was introduced by Senators Biden, Durbin, Hatch, Grassley and Leahy. It expands the so-called "crack house statute" to allow the federal government to fine or imprison hosts whose 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, festivals, parties, or rallies on their property.
The two versions of the bill for Calendar No. 453, 107th Congress, 2d Session, are S.2633.IS (as introduced) and S2633.RS (as reported to the Senate). The bill states its purpose is "To prohibit an individual from knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance, and for other purposes." On June 27, S.2633.RS was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, Calendar No. 453.
According to a Drug War Task Force alert of the U.S. Libertarian Party and the Drug Policy Alliance, this bill "would give federal prosecutors new powers to shut down hemp festivals, marijuana rallies and other events and punish business owners and activists for hosting or promoting them. The proposed law would also potentially subject people to enormous federal sentences if some of their guests smoked marijuana at their party or barbecue. It would also effectively make it a federal crime to rent property to medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. While it purports to be aimed at ecstasy and other club drugs, it gives the federal government enormous power to fine and imprison supporters of marijuana legalization, even if they've never smoked marijuana."
"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 who use marijuana to relieve their suffering."
When government makes some drugs illegal, the enforcement net becomes ever wider, since there are no victims to report the crime. In making the events illegal and punishing those who host them, even if the owner or manager does not know that illegal drugs are being used, and even if the host opposes such use, the war on drug users spills over into property and actions that themselves are not involved in drugs.
When this bill passes, the First Amendment right to assemble will effectively be gone. Hosts will fear having parties and events because someone might, unknown to the host, use drugs. This bill puts responsibility on the host and owner, not the user.
The American government is waging two wars, a war on drugs and a war on terror attacks. These two wars are in conflict, as resources and manpower devoted to the war on drugs takes away resources that could be used to protect Americans from terror. Evidently, the priority of many in Congress is to further pursue the war on drug users rather than to more fully concentrate on protecting Americans from attacks by terrorists. This is perhaps why government officials keep warning Americans that there will be a future attack. They know they are not putting top priority to protecting Americans from attacks.
Of course the President will sign this bill when presented to him. And when asked by those taking polls, Americans will bleat that Congress and the President are "doing a good job."
Meanwhile, laws will not stop youth from partying. Raves will just be driven into hidden places, into streets and parking lots, or out to farms and fields and forests, where there will be no supervision, and party goers will suffer more deaths and ruined lives. Teenagers will be the prime victims of this expanded war on drugs.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2002 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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