Criminalizing Party Hosting

Jacob Sullem writes about the passage of Joe Biden's re-named Rave Act in When Holding a Party Is a Crime:

The act prohibits "knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing or using any controlled substance." Given this broad language, anyone who organizes or rents space for an event where drug use takes place could face criminal charges. Not only is the law unlikely to keep people from using Ecstasy, it could magnify the drug's dangers by pushing raves further underground and discouraging voluntary efforts to protect users from serious harm.

The most significant short-term risk associated with MDMA is its impairment of the body's ability to regulate temperature. Overheating is a special concern at raves, where people may dance vigorously in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces for hours at a time.

For years volunteer groups like DanceSafe have been passing out fliers at raves and night clubs with advice on how to avoid dangerous overheating-- drink water, take frequent breaks, abstain from alcohol (which compounds dehydration). Event sponsors have helped by providing bottles of water and ventilated "chill out" rooms, measures intended not to encourage drug use but to reduce drug-related harm.

Under the new law such sensible precautions could be seen as evidence that the host or owner knew guests would be using drugs, exposing him to $250,000 or more in civil penalties, a criminal fine of up to $500,000, and a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

[link via Balloon-Juice]

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