It’s been 9 months since I last reported on the RAVE Act, or Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy. The bill which was introduced in 2003 as a way to combat the rise of ecstasy in the rave community was essentially the “road to hell paved with good intentions.” The tendency of the United States to throw the baby out with the bath water was more present than ever when this bill was signed. As I wrote in my last post –
Many people took issue with the act, most specifically, “many were concerned that these expansive definitions might permit the police to arrest and charge concert promoters under this law so long as glow sticks and bottled water were present.” This has had a direct consequence on festivals, promoters, and large EDM events that do not want to be associated with drugs so as to avoid liability. It is one of the hidden reasons we do not see testing stations, water stations, chill out areas and adequate medical staffing at every festival — it actively shields producers and promoters from liability.
The last time I brought up the subject was to report that research had determined that the RAVE Act had failed spectacularly. Of course, as I had also pointed out, it wasn’t news to anyone. The RAVE Act did not stop kids from taking drugs, specifically ecstasy. If there was anything to learn from the past 12 years, it’s that if someone wants to do a specific drug, they will find a way to do so.
As was the case with Shelley Goldsmith, a student at the University of Virginia, who died of a heat stroke at a dance party after taking MDMA in 2013. Shelley was at an EDM event which lacked proper safety protocols such as water or medical personnel.
Shelley’s mother, Dede, began her Amend the Rave Act campaign on the anniversary of her daughter’s death in 2014. As with many social movements, this one too unfortunately began with the death of a loved one. But Dede doesn’t want to dwell on the negative, quite the opposite. She wants to make a difference in the way that venues can operate without the looming consequences of the RAVE Act overhead.
Her petition reads as follows,
Dear Members of Congress,
I urge you to enact legislation to amend the 2003 Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act (aka the RAVE Act) to ensure that music venue owners and event organizers can implement common sense safety measures to protect their patrons and reduce the risk of medical emergencies, including those associated with drug use, without fear of prosecution by federal authorities.
As the law currently stands, many owners and organizers are reluctant to institute such measures, fearing they may be accused of “maintaining a drug involved premises” under the Act, and thus opening themselves to criminal or civil prosecution. Clarifying the original intent of the Act will ensure that the Act can no longer be misinterpreted in ways that jeopardize public safety.
Drug use will occur, statistically, at every single EDM event this year. If medical personnel on-site can prevent even a single death, it is well worth it.
You can sign the petition here. This is one that’s absolutely worth filling out.