Drug Bill Needs a Fix

Senator Biden's RAVE Act Returns

by Will Doig
Published on February 6, 2003, 12:00am | Comments

Before you throw that next barbeque party, better frisk your guests at the door.

Determined to push his Drug War bill through Congress, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) has once again brought his RAVE Act legislation to the Senate floor, this time under the more innocuous title "Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act. " The bill, now in its third form, has lost the rave-specific references that were criticized by civil liberties groups, but remains virtually identical to the original in scope and impact.

"This bill needs to be changed to protect people from prosecution who aren't involved in the drug trade, " says Bill McColl, National Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "They're refusing to make that fix. "

The bill makes it a crime to "knowingly and intentionally " make a space available for drug use to occur. Critics have voiced concern that the bill's vague language could incriminate innocent party promoters. Sentencing guidelines allow for fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and up to twenty years in prison.

"It's a straw dog, " says Atlas promoter Mark Lee, a vocal opponent of the original RAVE Act. "All they've done is clean up the dressing of the bill, but it remains the same as last year's. "

At Metro Weekly's press time, the bill had been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.