Oct 08, 2015
Joe Biden’s RAVE Act Under Fire For Drug-Related Deaths

The controversial RAVE Act has come under fire from drug policy campaigners, promoters, and even parents who have lost children to drug related deaths, as they allege that the law is preventing partygoers from accessing information that could save their lives.

The Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act–more commonly referred to as the RAVE act, the name of an earlier proposed bill–was introduced by Joe Biden in 2003, and gives authorities the power to impose huge fines on event organizers who “make available for use” any venue where illegal substances are used. It was designed to prevent drug-related deaths at events, but campaigners claim the opposite effect is increasingly being felt, with some recent deaths being cited as examples.

Due to the vague nature of the law, the Amend The Rave Act group–founded by Dede Goldsmith, whose daughter Shelley died aged 19 at a dance music event in 2013–says that promoters are too concerned with being implicated with advocating drug use, so they avoid all mention of any advice and assistance that could prevent drug-related deaths. Overheating, a common side-effect of MDMA consumption, has played a key role in a number of deaths at various high-profile events, and better education, warnings, and access to drinking water could mitigate the risks involved.

It’s also clear that the problem is affecting the upper echelons of the industry. Insomniac founder Pasquale Rotella, a man who is known for putting the interests of his customers and the culture of dance music before anything else, recently stated in a Reddit AMA that his company stopped working with well-known drug welfare charity DanceSafe because association with an organization that advocates drug testing is viewed by many authorities as “endorsing drug use rather than keeping people safe, and that can prevent producers from getting locations and organizing events”.

In the meantime, the campaign to repeal the act goes on, and campaigners like Dede Goldsmith are clear in their reasoning: “It’s a bad law, it’s preventing public safety measures that are just common-sense things that we ought to do. Schools should also play a role in giving youths honest and realistic information about drug use that goes beyond ‘Just Say No’.”

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