Blog Post

Vice President Biden: Fix Your RAVE Act Law and Save Lives

Stefanie Jones

Festival season is underway and sadly, we’ve already seen headlines about drug-related deaths.

This summer, there’s a unique opportunity to do something to help prevent these deaths: join DPA’s #SaferPartying campaign and partner organization DanceSafe in asking Vice President Biden to support Amending the RAVE Act.

The RAVE Act – or Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, its actual name – is legislation that holds event producers criminally and civilly responsible for drug use among their event attendees.  Despite almost never being enforced, this law lurks in the background, scaring event producers (and their lawyers and insurers) from allowing anything that acknowledges or even hints at drug use at their events – even information and services designed to keep attendees safe.

What this means in practice is that when it comes to addressing drug use most event producers have relied heavily on enforcement tactics (i.e. keep drugs out) and medical response (i.e. be prepared for the worst case scenario when they get in anyway) rather than taking a harm reduction approach.  A harm reduction approach requires that we pragmatically accept that some people will choose to use drugs no matter what, and that it’s far better to provide accurate, non-judgmental drug information about what they’re taking and build services for them at festivals that will help them avoid a visit to the medical tent – or morgue. 

More and more people – including festival producers – are starting to see the sense of a harm reduction approach. 

But unfortunately the RAVE Act still stands in the way, preventing many event producers from trying this approach, or going as far as they should.

Vice President Biden knows all about this law – he wrote it.  And he has said that his intention was not to stop law-abiding event producers from holding safe events. 

The summer of 2016 is the last summer he’ll be in office.  That’s why it’s crucial that he hear from us now – he has one last opportunity to provide clarification on how this law should be enforced, and make it known that event producers who want to do everything they can to keep their attendees safe should not be punished.

Shelley Goldsmith was 19 when she died after taking MDMA and going to a DC club. Her mother, Dede Goldsmith, started Amend the RAVE Act campaign to make drug education and harm reduction services more widely available and accepted.

DPA and DanceSafe are proud to be raising awareness together around this issue, and in support of Dede Goldsmith’s Amend the RAVE Act campaign.  We invite you – whether as an individual or as part of an organization – to join us as we share seven different reasons for the next seven weeks about why Vice President Biden should Amend the RAVE Act.

Are you with us?  Send a message directly to Vice President Biden and please share with your networks – the more he hears about this, the more likely it is he will be motivated to respond to our request.

Together, let’s make a huge leap forward this summer in making festivals safer for everyone.

Stefanie Jones is the director of audience development for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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Harm reduction