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.
Despite zero-tolerance drug policies and enforcement efforts, people at festivals can and do continue to use drugs.
We should be taking a harm reduction approach that includes:
This works much better in keeping attendees safe, happy and healthy – and ultimately, is the most meaningful action a responsible event producer or club owner can take.
Unfortunately, federal legislation called the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act (2003) – known more commonly under its original name, the RAVE Act – makes it difficult.
This law holds event producers criminally and civilly responsible if they are found to “knowingly” be operating “a drug-involved premise.”
DPA fought this legislation the first time around when it was proposed by then-Senator Joe Biden, warning that it would have unintended consequences if passed.
This has proven true. The RAVE Act has been interpreted by many event producers (and their attorneys) to mean that including anything that acknowledges drug use – even things meant to save lives such as drug education, free water, cool-down spaces or other harm reduction – would leave them vulnerable to prosecution. So they don’t do it – and partygoers bear the resulting harms.
This is why we must Amend the RAVE Act.
We must make it absolutely clear that when event producers and club owners are acting in the best interests of the health of their patrons they will NOT be punished for it.