A recent paper suggests that a 2003 federal law “enacted to combat the use of ‘club drugs’ such as Ecstasy — and today’s variation known as Molly — failed to reduce the drugs’ popularity and, instead, has further endangered users by hampering the use of measures to protect them.”
The law, cleverly titled the RAVE (Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy) Act, essentially holds venue owners and event organizers responsible for their patrons’ illegal drug use. (Thank you, Vice President Biden.)
According to the study’s author, University of Delaware sociology professor Tammy L. Anderson, the law has made clubs and promoters “reluctant” to offer help that could prevent avoidable illnesses and deaths caused by uninformed use of drugs:
“Before the law was passed, raves often provided services to help protect participants who were using drugs: free bottled water was available to combat the dehydration that can occur, for example, and security staff patrolled the event on the lookout for anyone in distress who might need medical care. Independent groups, such as Dance Safe, sometimes set up booths outside raves and tested the drugs people were carrying to alert them to dangerous ingredients.”
‘There were a lot of groups like that, and there was a lot of educational information about drugs being made available. Today, clubs and promoters are reluctant to take those precautions because it could be used as evidence against them.’ They sometimes even fail to summon medical help when needed, she says.”
With each club or festival death over the past year, Molly paranoia – fueled by fear-mongering from the media and law enforcement – has increased. This type of paranoia, of course, does no good because it is borne of the same problem that causes these deaths: ignorance. If the miserable failure we call the ‘War on Drugs’ has proved anything, it’s that federal laws should be focused on education, harm reduction, and rehabilitation, rather than prohibition.