The RAVE Act Has Landed


| June 11, 2003


The DEA used the new RAVE Act to shut down a May 30 benefit concert for two Montana groups advocating marijuana legalization, proving critics? fears that the law would not only be used to keep kids off ecstasy, but as a tool to silence drug war opponents. The concert, a joint benefit for the Montana chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, was called off by the manager of the venue after she received threats from a local DEA agent of a $250,000 fine if someone at the event smoked a joint, according to a report by Phillip S. Smith of DRCNet.

The RAVE Act, authored by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), was intended to target the electronic music shows, called raves, which are known for open use of the drug ecstasy, by making it a crime for the owner of a venue to knowingly host an event where illegal drugs are used. Opponents of the law, fearing that it would be used to infringe on the free speech of groups advocating drug law reform, were able to block it in Congress last year. But Biden attached it as an amendment to the popular Amber Alert bill passed in May.

?[The DEA agent] didn't tell us we couldn?t have the event,? said the manager of the Eagle Lodge, ?but he showed me the law and told us what could happen if we did.? I talked to our trustees, they talked to our lawyers, and our lawyers said not to risk it, so we canceled.?

Drug war critics are outraged by the incident, the first apparent use of the RAVE Act by the federal government. ?This confirms all our fears,? said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance. ?This isn?t about drug parties or raves, it?s about having a club to hold over people?s heads, whether it?s hemp festivals, circuit parties, dances, whatever. The RAVE Act is being used to suppress political speech. This is exactly what Sen. Biden said would not happen, and now it?s happening.?
?Leif Utne

Go there>>DEA Uses RAVE Act Threats to Block Montana NORML/SSDP Benefit