The RAVE Act, which stands for "Reducing America's Vulnerability to Ecstasy"
August 3, 2002 12:44 AM   Subscribe

The RAVE Act, which stands for "Reducing America's Vulnerability to Ecstasy" courtesy of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) (via LA Times)
posted by mrhappy (63 comments total)
tell your senators how you feel. if you support the bill, their prewritten letter can simply be edited or rewritten.
posted by pikachulolita at 1:41 AM on August 3, 2002

bleh, if you can't be bothered to write your own letter do you really care that much?
posted by delmoi at 3:17 AM on August 3, 2002

shrug. why not make it a little easier for people to make their opinion known?
posted by pikachulolita at 3:32 AM on August 3, 2002

I detest sites which require to know what I ate for breakfast before they'll let me read an article. So, here are a few which don't.
posted by walrus at 4:40 AM on August 3, 2002

I keep flashing back on an old philosophy class where the premise was floated: "If someone invented a happiness pill with absolutely no side-effects, the government would still find some pretext to outlaw it."

... unless maybe it was martini-based. ;)
posted by RavinDave at 5:58 AM on August 3, 2002

Hey, slightly off-topic, but relevant, is Biden seeking the 2004 Presidency?

I honestly haven't followed the campaign for 2004 with much scrutiny and am curious.

Because that would explain why his name keeps popping up here on MeFi.
posted by BlueTrain at 6:03 AM on August 3, 2002

More war on drugs bullshit. What, if any, difference there is (from a moral or practical safety point of view) between a rave where you can get X and a bar or concert where you can get booze is beyond me. I'm not claiming that alcohol is dose-for-dose as harmful as X (or as safe, as the case may be), but you're just as dead if you're killed in a car accident while blitzed out of your mind on booze as you are if you dehydrate and collapse at a rave.
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:10 AM on August 3, 2002

Marv Johnson, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), contends, “It violates the First Amendment.” He argues that while there is no constitutional right to smoke crack, there is, in fact, a right to dance.

Jesus, (flashback...Elmore City, Oklahoma..) Where is Kevon Bacon when we need him?
posted by bradth27 at 6:42 AM on August 3, 2002

i love how it's all about americans' vulnerability to ecstasy. like if we don't take certain measures, it will attack us in the night.
posted by pikachulolita at 6:44 AM on August 3, 2002

Kevin, that is.....
I get this feeling
That time's just holding me down
I'll hit the ceiling
Or else I'll tear up this town......

posted by bradth27 at 6:44 AM on August 3, 2002

Yeah, those ravers, that's what's wrong with today's kids. They're so evil and vicious.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:55 AM on August 3, 2002

I'm so glad my government is so worried about my health and safety. Extending the crack house law to cover concert and rave venues won't stop drug use. It just means that legitimate promoters will have a harder times finding places to put on the show.

If passed, this legislation won't stop kids from doing drugs — just like no other laws/etc in the war on drugs really work. Humans have been doing drugs forever. Drugs aren't going to go away with prohibition.

And RavinDave/Ryland: Any drug law debate flashes me back to a government class where we debated if alcohol hadn't been invented until now, that there is no way our government would allow the manufacture of beer, wine, etc.
posted by birdherder at 7:02 AM on August 3, 2002

Sure, tell your senators. But be sure to do it in paper or in person. Sending an email to them is likely to get ignored. Also, be warned that you will get form responses along the lines of, "we're not out to stop raves, we're out to fight ecstasy!!" or something similar. Remember that politicians want to get re-elected, and if it wins a battle in the almighty war on drugs, it makes the voters happy. So in addition to all the above, you gotta vote too.

Too many of my friends are party-loving ravers or DJ's who rely on raves and such to make money. Sure, there is illegal drug use there, but that's not why the raves are there and its not what they are about. Its like shutting down and banning all high school school bathrooms because underage kids go there to smoke. You know what I mean?
posted by webratta at 7:12 AM on August 3, 2002

Biden is not an announced candidate for '04, but he is on the short list. Since the Dems took back the Senate, he's been chairman of both the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees -- which gives him in some ways a more bully pulpit than Daschle as Majority Leader. (And Daschle's backed off some anyway.) He gets to oversee judicial and ambassadorial nominations (which have not yet graduated to public catfights this administration), as well as practically any regulatory or diplomatic initiative. Unless he's concerned about the GOP getting the chamber back, it's hard to imagine why he'd leave.
posted by dhartung at 7:18 AM on August 3, 2002

This trend for legislation to have an acronym, USA-Patriot Act, RAVE Act, etc - does it strike anyone else as a little, well, High School?
posted by dash_slot- at 7:20 AM on August 3, 2002

RAVE Act Bill Summary and Status
21 USC 856 - Currently, "Establishment of [narcotics] manufacturing operations"; if this bill passes, the new title would be, "Maintaining drug-involved premises"
21 USC 843 - Paragraph (f) of this section would be amended by the RAVE Act to authorize the Attorney General to seek civil penalties.

Okay, so there are two things wrong with this act: the fact that renters can now be held criminally liable (maximum sentence: 20 years, maximum fine $2,000,000), and the introduction of civil penalties (which require a lower standard of evidence and therefore are more threatening). Venue owners are not going to want to allow rave promoters to use their space even if no drug use is mentioned or actively promoted; the threat of both civil and criminal penalties, if even one attendee gets arrested for possession, would be too great.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that Joe Biden is the sponsor. Several months ago, I saw some of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the Ecstasy "problem", complete with two teenage "ex-addicts" who told their sad story of how Ecstasy ruined their lives. All the other senators solemnly nodded their heads, but Biden's first question to them was, "Were you using alcohol or any other drugs during this time?" And of course, both of them were. Not all senators are morons, I thought. He spoke about harm reduction and going after the promoters during that hearing, as an alternative to doubling or tripling penalties for use or possession. I guess this is what the Judiciary Committee came up with.

I don't think that this is an issue that should be handled with more legislation. Instead, I think that a true harm-reduction strategy is in order - encouraging law enforcement to prosecute promoters for reckless endangerment who charge for water or chill-out rooms, enforcing relevant building codes, etc. This bill would suppress the central art form of a nascent subculture for a relatively minor <a href="" title="'In 1995, 318 people ages 15 to 24 died from alcohol poisoning alone'"problem that is best addressed by other means.

Disclaimer: I have never been to a rave. I have never taken Ecstasy. I Am Not A Lawyer.
posted by skoosh at 7:31 AM on August 3, 2002

ARGH!!! If only I could go back and add that final >...

Also: What birdherder said.

Also also: Back in the good ol' days before anthrax came with the junk mail, letters to your federal elected officials were the best way to go. Now, though, it's doubtful if they'll even get the mail in time for it to still be relevant, or at all. I guess you could fax them something instead.
posted by skoosh at 7:42 AM on August 3, 2002

actually, the link i posted above sends a fax, not an email. any more legitimate now?
posted by pikachulolita at 8:05 AM on August 3, 2002

The 'war on drugs' refers to the supply side of the equation. This is different, at least the DEA is taking action closer to the demand side. Now if we could only get more funding for treatment services and addiction research. We need to better understand what makes individuals predisposed to abuse and how to recognize the signs that a recreational user is vulnerable to abuse.

A person's ability to function and quality of life are also at issue. Some addicts are compelled to steal, violence or promiscuity and some are not, it's never the drug use itself that's the problem, it's the behavior associated with it (and the personal potential lost) that is cause for concern.

It also seems disingenuous to the discussion to limit our options to either prohibition or legalization. I think this country has an interesting balance between civil liberties and social order. It seems what is at issue with this law is that we see people doing drugs on a massive scale in a collective environment, with a certain number becoming visibly harmed by their use or abuse. The arguement that 'drugs will always be around, so don't even bother controlling it' misses the point. There will always be an ebb and flow in the amount of drug use a society is prepared to handle and what it won't tolerate.

DanceSafe is a nice idea, but it's voluntary and a big joke. NWLNC's political efforts are just hilarious true-life Flashdance parodies played out in Seattle City Council meetings and the local media.

Should Estopinal be held accountable? Certainly, he's made no effort in the face of an obvious problem, otherwise what is he really contributing, what about the 'community', where's the love?
posted by yonderboy at 8:10 AM on August 3, 2002

Of course, I meant Footloose, and where's the respect?
posted by yonderboy at 8:32 AM on August 3, 2002

Assistant U.S. Atty. Al Winters ... did offer one insight: "Once we executed search warrants at the State Palace Theatre, the overdoses in the local hospitals went from 12 every time they had a rave to none. None. That's why we got into the case. It was to try to stop the overdoses, and so far we're successful."

To me, this doesn't necessarily say that the overdoses have stopped, but rather that they've been forced underground. Increasing the frequency of searches might scare off a few casual users, but I find it doubtful that it would change the habits of frequent users.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:49 AM on August 3, 2002

To me it says fewer introductory users are overdosing, whether a few or a lot of casual users are affected is uncertain. There will always be frequent users and abusers, some know their limits and some don't. The statistics and demographics are quite vague and probably don't prove anything either way.
posted by yonderboy at 9:12 AM on August 3, 2002

the irony.

keep poppin'
posted by johnnyboy at 9:19 AM on August 3, 2002

I'm going to introduce the "See? Those Useless Pricks In DC Are Simply Shitheads" (S.T.U.P.I.D. A.S.S.) Act. Penalties for being a shithead would include public flogging, being locked into stocks in the town square, and having a scarlet 'S' tattooed on the offender's forehead.

In order to be in violation of the law, a Congressperson who was in office when a stupid bill like this was introduced but failed to immediately bitch-slap the person who thought it up would automatically be guilty.

Congresspeople who are non-shitheads would have nothing to fear under my bill.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:39 AM on August 3, 2002

Dirty Dancing 2: Happy Hardcore at 400BPM

*oonts oonts oonts oonts oonts* (imagine a 4/4)

did anyone bring vicks? im blowin up!@
posted by shadow45 at 9:39 AM on August 3, 2002

Ha, at my command we have a blacklist of places which might condone drug use. Usually they are dance clubs and raves, but because of there were quite a few ravers who objected to the blanketing 'stay away from raves' eventually the command somewhat lifted the ban on all raves.

Well, I mean we get tested for ecstasy pretty often anyway.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:44 AM on August 3, 2002


(Sorry.  I am just so goddamn sick of the War on Drugs.)
posted by nath at 12:18 PM on August 3, 2002

significantly off-topic, but i for one am getting quite tired of all these damn acronyms.
posted by oog at 1:02 PM on August 3, 2002

yonderboy: A person's ability to function and quality of life are also at issue. Some addicts are compelled to steal, violence or promiscuity and some are not, it's never the drug use itself that's the problem, it's the behavior associated with it (and the personal potential lost) that is cause for concern.

Ecstacy is not physically addictive, and the "behavior associated with it" is hardly dangerous. Deaths and hospitalizations related to ecstacy use usually happen because either the stuff was impure (i.e. not really ecstacy, or ecstacy mixed with something else), or because of dehydration, or because the user mixed ecstacy with lots of alcohol. Organized raves often provide free water and resting areas. Also ecstacy users are notorious for looking out for their fellow ravers, sharing information about types of ecstacy and how to use it...and in fact, the affects of the drug itself is conducive to this kind of community spirit. Making it harder to organize venues in which these things can be done openly is only going to result in more avoidable misuses.

For a great depiction of the rave/ecstacy culture and all that comes with it, see the indie movie Groove, now available at your local (good) video store. To the creators' credit, it even depicts misuse of both the drug and the rave situation, though the overall mood is certainly positive.
posted by bingo at 1:46 PM on August 3, 2002

just for the record, people....

a friend of mine does neurological studies on little birds. baby birds. most of the studies center around how the neural system copes with damage.

guess what they use to kill the brain cells in the little birdies?

an eyedropper full of mdma.

i'm just sayin. that's all. just sayin.
posted by jaded at 1:50 PM on August 3, 2002

Hey, slightly off-topic, but relevant, is Biden seeking the 2004 Presidency?

Slightly off-topic reason's why he won't get it include plaigarized speeches, crappy hair transplants (Michael Feldman calls him Senator Hair Club For Men) and the whole senator from MBNA thing.
posted by y2karl at 1:53 PM on August 3, 2002

guess what they use to kill the brain cells in the little birdies?
eyedropper full of MDMA

Somehow, the phrase bird-brained applies to this example.
posted by y2karl at 2:02 PM on August 3, 2002

jaded: guess what they use to kill the brain cells in the little birdies? eyedropper full of mdma

In humans, mdma causes the brain to release seratonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Do bird brains even have these chemicals, and if they do, do they use them the same way we do? Can birds get ecstatic or depressed?

mdma is made for was used by psychiatrists before it became "ecstacy." I would hesitate to feed birds prozac or bourbon too, and if the goal was to elevate the mood of birds, I would think that a much different drug would be synicated.
posted by bingo at 2:10 PM on August 3, 2002

jaded, i don't think anyone is going to say that there aren't potential harmful effects of ecstasy (or tobacco, alcohol or any other drug). there are a million and one ways to kill braincells, most of which are legal... but does that mean that we should give the government the right to choose what we can do to our bodies? does that mean that the people who believe in supporting the music should be fined and punished because some of the people in the room are participating in illegal activities? i think that the issues get very collapsed...
posted by zegooober at 2:16 PM on August 3, 2002

The DanceSafe slide show slideshow that explains how ecstacy affects the human brain.
posted by bingo at 2:22 PM on August 3, 2002

fixed link
posted by Hackworth at 2:37 PM on August 3, 2002

"i'm just sayin. that's all. just sayin."

just for the record, people... a friend of mine's been married several times and the first time she got married they threw rice but it ruined her honeymoon cuz before she could get into the "Just Married" limo all these pigeons ate the rice, blew up and died. Crying shame. Since then she insists everybody throws bird seed. Now all the birds attack the guests as she gets into the limo but at least nobody dies.

So guess since rice is just as bad for birds as mdma, Senator Joe Biden should write a bill sayin' ecstacy's only legal if it's cut with birdseed.

I'm just sayin. Dat's all. Just sayin.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:02 PM on August 3, 2002

isn't it interesting how both politicians and addicts

think they can beat drugs?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:03 PM on August 3, 2002

I went through the slideshow...

MAO doesn't really look like a hammer.

That's a relief. But that would have explained some of my headaches.

The sideshow takes a while but explains what effects mdma has on the brain and didn't seem to be preachy.
posted by birdherder at 3:34 PM on August 3, 2002

After watching 42 hours straight of Ghostwriter I firmly believe he should have written it as a rap.

It's how you get through to the kids.
posted by holloway at 4:03 PM on August 3, 2002

isn't it interesting how both politicians and addicts think they can beat drugs?

There's one difference.  Sometimes addicts are successful.
posted by nath at 4:48 PM on August 3, 2002

So we should give in then, I guess?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:12 PM on August 3, 2002

posted by Optamystic at 5:52 PM on August 3, 2002

Vulnerability to ecstasy? It's a sad day when Congress openly admits it is legislating against happiness. What's next? The Opposition to Sex, World Peace, Pizza, and Cute Little Puppy Dogs Act?
posted by jonp72 at 8:11 PM on August 3, 2002

Strangely enough, one seems to run into more people rolling at mainstream clubs than raves of any sort these days. Or, at least, that's been my experience here in Detroit. Oh, sure, you're gonna run into your fair share at a rave. But if one's wanting X, it's easier to get at dance clubs, especially the "booty-bar" type.
posted by Windigo at 8:55 PM on August 3, 2002

Does it worry anyone else that private residences are not excluded from this bill? Whether you own or rent your home, you're open to prosecution if you so much as allow someone to smoke a joint at a party. It may seem a little extreme, but I'm sure some jurisdictions would jump at the opportunity for a test case- get it past appeal and its open season on casual drug use.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:10 PM on August 3, 2002

So we should give in then, I guess?

If you mean giving up the war on drugs, absolutely.  But I'm not sure if you're responding to me.
posted by nath at 1:06 AM on August 4, 2002

This seems to suggest that there are memory problems associated with ecstasy. I can't find a link but I heard on some news programme the other day that ecstasy had dropped signifcantly in price in the UK because club culture is dying and the drug has become unfashionable. People buy pills in bulk now apparently. So, if you want to stock up on ecstasy come to London, only 50p for 10.
posted by Summer at 4:50 AM on August 4, 2002

Just for the record, I will again recount my one experience with ecstasy. I had a good time, but then stupidly did another drug three days later that caused me to have a rather extreme psychotic episode. The fact that I was bipolar beforehand and didn't realize it probably fed into the whole issue.

I spent six days in the hospital, lost custody of my daughter, and have been doing (mostly) well on psych meds ever since.

That said, I think our government is getting insane with these drug laws. Fleeing for another country sounds better and better with each passing week, but I don't want to let the bastards win.

I wish I were a gozillionaire, then I'd get some huge boats and go offshore in the Pacific and start tying them together to make a big old Raft like in Snow Crash... that would be hella cool. Or something.
posted by beth at 11:43 AM on August 4, 2002

to be clear - in my earlier post about bird brains - I wasn't saying that mdma should be illegal. I happen to think that the RAVE act is a pile of steaming horsesh*t.

But, one thing that really does bother me is when people use the argument that it's harmless and that's the reason it should be legal. The reason it should be legal is because it's none of the govt's damn business if you want to do E. The fact that it's dangerous is the reason is should be legal and *regulated*.

Just don't try to convince people that it should be legal because it's harmless.
posted by jaded at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2002

Just don't try to convince people that it should be legal because it's harmless.
I don't think anyone was doing that.
posted by nath at 12:56 PM on August 4, 2002

The fact that I was bipolar beforehand and didn't realize it probably fed into the whole issue.

posted by brittney at 1:42 PM on August 4, 2002

no one can 'beat' an addiction .

how longs dubya sober these days ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:39 PM on August 4, 2002

Erowid collection of relevant MDMA research papers .
posted by y2karl at 3:50 PM on August 4, 2002

John Stossel's take on the whole thing is good for a laugh.
Or a cry. Depends on how ya look at it.
Should we give up on the war against drugs?
I see no indication one was ever properly started.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:02 PM on August 4, 2002

i think a lot of governments have realised

the war on drugs is actually enabling drug use.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:44 PM on August 4, 2002

Let's look at it this way. Tomorrow, drugs are suddenly legal. Across the board. No prohibition on any of them, from hash to coke to ..everything. The only reason I don't experiment is because they're illegal. If that went away tomorrow, I'd reconsider my stance. So would a lot of people.

So there'd be an increase in use and purchase. Supply & demand fluctuations. There'd also be a lot of deaths. A lot of stupid people doing stupid things. However, eventually there'd be an equilibrium. Eventually there'd be a series of discoveries which would make legal drug use practical. A lot of trial and error. A lot of lessons learned. Lessons that can't be learned so long as drugs are illegal.

The only thing that makes this crap so expensive today is the fact it's illegal. You make it legal, the price will drop in less than a week like a stone. There'd be a brief boom in sales. Then the profit of recreational drugs will bottom out. Since it's no longer profitable, most of the present access points for these drugs will dry up. Major downsizing among the drug trafficking. A new infrastructure would have to be managed. It might happen, but with the sudden diminishing returns there'd be little interest in it.

Alcohol survived the end of prohibition. So would drugs eventually, but in the interum there'd be a lot of people who are presently faceless. People who make a lot of money today simply because drugs are illegal. Most of those people would suddenly be out of a job. Most of those people would be very unhappy.

Drugs aren't illegal because they're evil. They're illegal because it's more profitable than the alternative.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:23 PM on August 4, 2002

no one can 'beat' an addiction .

Are you trolling?
posted by nath at 7:13 PM on August 4, 2002

I would argue just the opposite, Zach. Looking at the bottom line, recouping the expense of the half-wit 'war on drugs' and releasing the hundreds of thousands of prisoners in jail on drug charges, taking into account the enormous boost in tax revenues a government might see by legalizing some recreational drugs, I'd say that it's likely that a scenario like the government-run liquor stores in Canada, but for a selection of currently-illegal drugs, would result in a much higher profit ratio for the state.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:15 PM on August 4, 2002

Drugs aren't illegal because they're evil. They're illegal because it's more profitable than the alternative.

This is certainly true, at least for the people in the drug trade today. If drugs were decriminalized and legalized, though, I'm sure there are some corporations that would be more than happy to step in and fill the void.

I guess a lot of that depends on how much you believe the government and the CIA and whoever else is involved in the drug trade, though.
posted by nath at 7:23 PM on August 4, 2002

And putting that with what Stavros said-- if the government really does covertly support the drug trade, then this way they can make their money while still maintaining a "moral higher ground" (in quotes, because I don't think drugs are an issue of morality).
posted by nath at 7:25 PM on August 4, 2002

Alcohol survived the end of prohibition.

In other news, Islam survived the end of the Inquisition.
posted by bingo at 12:40 AM on August 5, 2002

i really hope that i aint trolling,

im just making the point that fighting this kind of thing

only makes it stronger.

maybe if people tried to sort out the reason why people

seem to have this great need rather than trying to

cut off the supply , things would be different.

the idea that if you cut off the supply people will no longer

do this sort of thing doesnt work for me.

anyway , vinyl rules !

i'd be heartbroken if they closed that place down.....

i just cant dance to conventional music....

so if i go to a non raving nightclub ,

and somewhere in the mix of dire chart records

the dj sticks on a dance music track,

does that mean the venue is now promoting drug use ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:17 AM on August 5, 2002

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