The Rave Act
Compliments of Michael Mandelman

The legislation widely referred to as the "RAVE" Act passed through both
houses of Congress as an attachment to an unrelated child abduction - AMBER
Alert bill (S151). The "RAVE" Act had not passed a single committee this
year. In addition, it was so controversial when it was introduced during the
107th Congress that two Senators withdrew their sponsorship. The "RAVE" Act
essentially makes it easier for the federal government to prosecute innocent
business owners for the drug offenses of their customers - even if they take
steps to stop such activity.
Due to overwhelming opposition to the "RAVE" Act when it was first
introduced, legislators were forced to remove some of the most egregious
language before it passed. For example, the word "rave" was removed from
this version of the bill. Also, the original bill suggested that prosecutors
should view the sale of water and the presence of glow-sticks or massage oil
as evidence of drug use. These preposterous "findings" were removed in large
part due to activists who sent nearly 30,000 faxes to their Senators between
January and April 2003, urging them not to support such dangerous
legislation. The AMBER Alert bill with the modified "RAVE" Act attachment
was signed into law by President Bush on April 30, 2003.
Why did this bill pass without hearings? Because our congresspersons and
senators are scared to death of being perceived as soft on crime. They
wanted to get the amber alert bill passed and were going to put up with any
rag tag legislation that got tacked on to do it.  The sponsors of the
legislation took advantage of Congress' innate inability to vote against
anything that might "save the children" to win passage of measures destined
to cause pain and misery for untold numbers of adult partygoers, club
owners, event organizers and criminal defendants
Under the RAVE Act, anyone who organizes an event or owns a venue where
someone uses an illegal drug can be held liable for that drug use. Although
expressly crafted and advanced as an attack on the rave culture, the bill's
implications are frighteningly broad.

It could be used against promoters of hemp fests, rock concert promoters or
even -- in theory -- against professional sports franchises if fans are
smoking joints in the stands
Under the terms of the RAVE Act, anyone who organizes or owns a venue for a
rave, concert or nightclub where anyone uses an illegal drug can be held
responsible for any harm that results from the illegal drug use. In other
words, a nightclub owner could be fined and thrown in federal prison if
someone drops "E" in his club and then drives off a cliff.   But it gets
worse.  Even that 40th birthday dance you've been dreaming about having
could end with SWAT teams crashing through windows armed with high-powered
odor-eaters and a warrant for your arrest. All because someone at your event
was doing drugs--even if you didn't actually know about it. After you pay a
fine in accordance with Title 18 of the United States Code, we'll see ya
when you get out of the slammer--in about nine years or so.
The Rave Act has the force to stop licensed and law-abiding business owners
from hosting events out of fear of massive fines and prison sentences. It
would amend the federal "crack house law" to make it easier for federal
prosecutors to fine and imprison business owners that fail to stop drug
offenses from occurring. Businessmen and women could be prosecuted even if
they were not involved in drugs - and even if they took steps to stop drug
use on their property. Although proponents of the bill are seeking to target
raves (and DJs, nightclub owners, and rave promoters have the most to fear),
the law would apply to any business owner, including bar owners, motel
owners, concert promoters, and cruise ship owners. Because of its broad
language, the proposed law would even potentially subject people to time in
federal prison if guests smoked marijuana at their party or barbecue.
Another reminder that our Federal government is not always looking out for
the best interests of its citizens in proposing and passing legislation.  We
must maintain our diligence in becoming aware of these assaults on our
liberties so that effective opposition can be organized BEFORE such onerous
and draconian bills become the law of the land.

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