Some terrific news is coming out of Washington DC concerning the Amend The RAVE Act (ATRA) campaign. We received news last night from the organizations founder, Dede Goldsmith, that a request has been submitted to US Attorney Loretta Lynch & The Department of Justice (DOJ) to review the RAVE Act. The process is expected to take at least 7 weeks, so be patient. After all, this has been a almost 2-year battle and will continue to be a battle further on down the road.
Update: While a request has been submitted by senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine on behalf of Dede Goldsmith and the Amend The Rave Act campaign, the DOJ has not yet responded to the request. The Drug Policy Alliance and Dancesafe are also asking Vice President Joe Biden to put pressure on AG Lynch to review the RAVE Act and provide clarification. “The request has been sent – that’s a victory in and of itself..” says Stefanie Jones of the DPA. She goes on to explain “It’s essentially equivalent to getting a bill to the floor of the House or Senate – basically, an opportunity for action but no guarantees for action or the *right* action outcome.”
The current situation is that promoters are afraid of putting common sense harm reduction services at festivals and shows because it legally could be perceived that they are promoting drug use, providing a “safe” place to use drugs. This has left only the most basic harm reduction initiatives in place: Things like free water and a cool down area. The hope is that the DOJ will make it clear that you are not violating the law by providing essential services in harm reduction, like drug education provided by professionals without judgment, better-equipped medical staff, the sale and distribution of pill & powder testing kits, etc. Basically, the things that have statistically been proven to keep people safe at shows.
It’s important to note that the law itself was never intended to be used in the manner that it currently affects event companies and festivals. We spoke to the Festival Lawyer, who told us that “the DEA itself has previously acknowledged that the law should not be used in this way,” going on to note that “there might be a great deal of benefit from a ‘symbolic’ clarification of this law. In other words, since it is not supposed to be used in this way in the first place, a clarification may be just what is needed.” As far as we know, not a single promotion group has ever been charged under this law.
We reached out to some different groups to get a better understanding of the implications on what is likely going to happen. The DOJ can say one of three things: The law is very clear and stands as such, partial non-enforcement (essentially saying that they aren’t going to strictly enforce the law in a festival context), or they can just not enforce the law at all. Stefanie Jones of The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) explains how significant this move actually is.
“My understanding is that if the AG [Attorney General] provides a clarification on the enforcement of the RAVE Act, although it could be reversed by a following AG, it’s unlikely. There’s little political motivation to do so, and once a clarification is issued, it generally stands. An actual amendment would be more permanent, but would be a much more difficult process (especially in this Congress) – especially when there’s little hard evidence the law has actually been victimizing event producers.” –Stephanie Jones, DPA
The ATRA organization has already garnered 14,867 signatures for its campaign, but there are still more needed. If you want to help amend the RAVE Act then you should throw your signature down now. Head to amendtheraveact.org and sign up! It takes just a few minutes out of your day (if that), and you can even get your friends to sign up on your phone. So go out and be proactive! Dede is asking everyone to find 5 friends and get them to sign the petition if they believe it will help. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make some real change!