Rave Regulation Bill Passes California Assembly on Unanimous Vote, Heads for Senate 6/7/02

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A bill that would force rave promoters to certify that they are familiar with illegal drugs and how to prevent their use at the popular electronic music events has passed the California Assembly on a 79-0 vote. Now it is headed for action in the state Senate. The bill authored by Rep. Nancy Havice (D-Bellflower) would also impose unprecedented regulatory restrictions on raves in the state. It is formally supported by Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the California Narcotics Officers Association (which is identified as a "sponsor" in a February legislative analysis), the California State Sheriffs' Association, the California Peace Officers' Association and Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Inc.

AB 141, the innocuously named "act to add Section 53087.6 to the Government Code, relating to law enforcement," includes the following provisions, as listed in the Legislative Analyst's office's review of the legislation:

  • "Establishes requirements for issuing a local permit for a "rave party," defined as an electronic music dance event that may be attended by 500 or more persons.
  • "Requires a local permit granting authority to notify the local law enforcement agency when it is considering a permit for a rave party.
  • "Requires a promoter applying for a permit for a rave party to:
    • Submit the application for the permit at least 30 days in advance;
    • Notify local law enforcement of its application;
    • Include in the permit application a list of all of the rave applications the promoter has submitted in the past;
    • Present evidence showing the promoter is knowledgeable about illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia and can recognize the presence of drugs at a rave;
    • Acknowledge in writing that the promoter will not permit, condone, or ignore violations of state and local laws relating to drugs and drug paraphernalia at the rave."
"It is my sincere belief that our children are facing an ever-changing and often dangerous world. In authoring this bill, I know I am doing my part to help protect all children by limiting our children's access to drugs," said Assemblywoman Havice in the bill's analysis section.

Civil and cognitive liberties groups and rave fans don't deny that drug use, especially of MDMA (ecstasy), exists at raves, but say that the bill infringes on civil rights of promoters and event-goers alike. The Southern California ACLU, for example, initiated an Internet-based campaign to block what it called an "anti-rave, anti-free speech bill."

"[The bill] picks out one type of speech event, a rave, and makes it harder to hold one than to hold another similar event, such as a wedding party, a folk music festival, or a religious concert," the group wrote at its campaign web site (http://ga1.org/campaign/rave_rights/). "It is not the government's job to judge what kind of music people should listen to, what kind of clothes and accessories they should wear, or what kind of dance party they can attend," contended the Southern California ACLU.

Assemblywoman Havice's spokesman Carlos Benilla told the University of Southern California newspaper the Daily Bruin "we're not targeting a specific kind of music; we're targeting a specific kind of activity that is taking place."

One Trojan, USC musicology grad student and electronic music fan Griffin Woodworth, told the Daily Bruin he feared the bill would have a negative impact on the music. He acknowledged drug use at raves, but said that was no reason to legislate against a certain style of music. "Drugs do not make the music, and music does not cause the drugs," Woodworth said.

And if Havick hopes that her bill will "protect all children," it may have the opposite effect. "Harm reduction" groups, such as DanceSafe (http://www.dancesafe.org), which provides pill testing and other services at raves, would not be allowed to do their work at permitted events, the bill's supporters said.

The bill is awaiting committee assignment in the Senate. The legislative session ends August 31. Given the overwhelming support for the bill in the Assembly, the best bet for opponents may be to let the bill die a quiet death by inaction in committee.

To view the text, history, and various analyses of the bill, go to http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset2text.htm and type in "AB1941."

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Issue #240, 6/7/02 Editorial: Time for Action | Feds Move to Seize LA Cannabis Resource Center, Hunger Strike Underway | Medical Marijuana Supporters Turn to Civil Disobedience, Direct Action | Rave Regulation Bill Passes California Assembly on Unanimous Vote, Heads for Senate | Cops Jockey for More Drug War Funds in Wake of FBI Revamp | Hot Topic: Adolescent Drug Treatment Abuse Conference Begins in St. Petersburg Tomorrow | Newsbrief: Wiretaps Up, Drug Investigations Behind Most, Feds Report | Newsbrief: New Mexico Governor Commutes Sentence of Raped Prisoner | Newsbrief: Fort Worth Police Chief Dares to Cut DARE | Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Harvest Estimated at 3,000 Tons | Newsbrief: Buds in Bhutan | Media Scan: Arianna Huffington | Grant Program: Tides Foundation RFPs for Latin America, Prop. 36 Implementation and Overdose Prevention | New DRCNet/StopTheDrugWar.org Merchandise Out -- Discounted Purchase Available | The Reformer's Calendar
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