Making it illegal to have a party on your property with pre-recorded music
Edited by Dylboz and Jenn
Why would someone want to make it illegal to hold a private party that features pre-recorded music and lasts over 3.5 hours? I can’t think of any other reason than the desire to give police even more laws they can arrest non-violent people for, and to exert total control over what people can do with their free time. This is a story that has died down a little over the past month or so but it still demands concern, at least in my opinion.
If you were to have one of these dangerous unauthorized gatherings under Fiona Ma’s proposed bill AB-74, you would be subject to arrest and a $10,000 fine, or twice the amount of total money generated by the party. Her justification for this is that 2 people died from using “drugs” while at a similar event To punish everyone because of two people who made a terrible mistake seems irresponsible, irrational and unjust. Such an approach is not only unreasonable, but thoroughly immoral. It is simply not possible to legislate away all the dangers in society. Making something illegal does not make it disappear either; it only drives it underground (thus causing even more danger and increasing the likelihood of illegal drug trafficking). Furthermore, extending her logic to the rest of human activity, Ms. Ma should also rigorously pursue legislation banning driving, skydiving, swimming and other leisure activities that could potentially result in death.
There may or may not be private individuals willingly putting a substances into their bodies to enhance the night’s experience and let loose a little bit at these “horror drug fueled events,” but it is ethically no different than people drinking alcohol, which is completely legal.
However, her law is so broad that any person throwing a party on their own private property (keep in mind this is property they allegedly own) that plays an iPod with 3.5 hours of music stored on it, held at night, would also be subject to arrest and/or fine. Of course, she did make it clear that her own New Year’s Eve party would not be subject to these laws, even though people were paying up to $500 to attend and playing pre-recorded music, because as long as there is “a business license to operate a bar, club, theater, entertainment venue, or other similar business, or to conduct sporting events…” it is not subject to the legislation. Essentially, the rich and the well-connected can have whatever parties they can pay for, while everyone else is subject to disproportionately harsh fines for their gatherings and parties because of the stupidity of 2 people.
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, let me just say this, please stop telling people what they can and cannot do. With real crimes with victims like murder, rape, robbery still quite common, surely there are better things for an assemblywoman to address besides loud parties. Trying to ban “raves” as a political move, under the guise of saving lives, is just pathetic and disingenuous. You’re actually destroying lives by encouraging cops to arrest more people to be imprisoned and fined. Is that your goal on a subject that you actually know little about? Shame on you!
Since Fiona Ma’s bill talks big about saving lives from drugs commonly taken in clubs, let’s look a little more closely at her issue. While I thought raves pretty much went extinct in the 90’s, I guess it’s still going pretty strong, usually under different names like “music conferences” and so forth. These club drugs she talks about can be broken down to the 4 most popular: Weed, Cocaine, Ecstasy and Ketamine. Cocaine probably is not best characterized as a drug closely associated with raves, since it is a drug that is used frequently in recreational contexts other than dance parties. I have to also exclude weed as being particularly associated with raves, as it is used medically and more often than any other illegal intoxicant, in a variety of settings unrelated to raves.
That leaves the 2 drugs most commonly associated with raves. There may be more, but for now I want to focus on these two. Ecstasy is the name most commonly used by the media. According to the media, Ecstasy is a little pill that you swallow. So with their wide definition, I can walk downstairs grab some sand, dog poop, concrete, and mix it with some super-glue and caffeine, green food coloring and I’d have what they call a roll. Would that be dangerous? Absolutely, but you really don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see what people put in these pills, because a lab analyzes them and publishes the results for everyone to see. The real danger with Ecstasy lies in the fact that it is illegal, and is produced, sold and distributed underground. Because it is illegal, there is no transparency, and there is no control over what is in it. What they should focus on is MDMA. I know there are other forms or variants like MDA and MDEA but we will stick to MDMA or “3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine”.
Now MDMA is a DEA Schedule I, which includes drugs deemed to have no medical uses. In fact, MDMA actually seems to have some great medical uses.
“MDMA had a beneficial therapeutic use prior to scheduling. Hundreds of therapists and psychiatrists used MDM Assisted psychotherapy with thousands of patients suffering from terminal illness, trauma, marital difficulties, drug addiction, phobias, and other disorders. MDMA was also used outside of therapeutic circles. With many anecdotal claims of benefits, users showed little evidence of problematic physiological or psychological reactions or addiction.(1)”
If you you’re close to my age you might remember those old commercials saying “this is your brain … and this is your brain on drugs,” followed by an egg being cracked into a sizzling frying pan, implying that all drugs, including Ecstasy, will fry your brain. Well according to the latest study (4), MDMA does not cause any type of brain damage. Thus, it appears more lies are being told to us by our government, although it’s not too surprising. If this drug does not cause brain damage, and its only negative side-effect if taken in the right dosage is dehydration and an increase in body temperature(3), it is unclear why it is illegal. True, those two side effects sound pretty dangerous, just like if I laid out in the sun on a Florida beach during the summer, I would probably become dehydrated and suffer heat exhaustion. But no one would think it reasonable to ban the sun, or ban sunbathing.
While I am in no way trying to promote the use of any drug here in the U.S. or overseas, I am looking for an explanation as to why people are being thrown in cages for many years, despite to the complete and utter failure of the war on drugs. Neither of these substances carry any type of risk for physical addiction like alcohol, tobacco or caffeine (caffeine being the most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world). These three legal drugs all have seriously averse side-effects as you may know if you ever tried to stop smoking, quit drinking or try and get through you day without having your moning cup of coffee.
Additionally, the chemical known as Ketamine, Ketaset, Anesket, or Ketalar is another drug associated with such clubs/parties, and goes by many different names but is most widely referred to as “special K”. It is used as an anesthetic, particularly as a general anesthetic for children or persons of poor health, and also in veterinary medicine. So why is this a Schedule III narcotic? Studies show that it has major medical benefits in curing depression.
“It’s like a magic drug,” said the lead researcher of a team from Yale University in the US whose latest study suggests that ketamine, a drug normally used as an anasthetic, could be reformulated as an anti-depressant that takes effect in hours rather than the usual weeks and months of most available medications.(2)”
Unlike Ecstasy, you can easily find Ketamine (RS)-2-(2-Chlorophenyl)-2- (methylamino)-cyclohexan- 1-one) in its purest form, packaged in an FDA-approved bottle with a tamper proof cap that shows it came straight from a legitimate and regulated company, with “lot” numbers, and an expiration date. This is obviously much safer than buying drugs like unpackaged pills or powder.
These club drugs in their purest form have relatively minor negative side-effects on one’s body. Furthermore, people seeking to use them at parties are mostly occasional users. As such, it seems unreasonable to make them completely illegal. Criminalization necessarily drives the market for these substances underground, and means any of them can be cut, mixed, or otherwise tampered with without any legal recourse available to the buyer, which makes using the drug far more dangerous.
Why do we continue to lock people in jail for the sake of feel-good laws? And that really is all they are. Banning things and making various substances illegal never eradicates them. It only drives them underground, makes them more dangerous, and removes transparency and accountability, while encouraging fraud and violence. Effectively, any ban is really only a moral decree that protects no one and helps nothing. It is an expensive moral decree at that – it costs people’s lives.If you look at the number of persons incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses this year alone (and its only March), it is already at around 326,000. In 2009 there were 1,663,582 such arrests. One of those arrested was actually a real criminal, a Federal police officer smuggling 700,000 ecstasy pills, making it the largest ecstasy bust in 2010.
You also have a lot of people that complain their taxes are too high. Consider a recent comment from none other than Fiona Ma “Right now, people are attending events on state-owned property and are dying and overdosing. It’s also costing taxpayers from all the public resources that go into deaths and drug overdoses on state property.” Well 15 billion dollars went to fighting the war on drugs last year, again costing taxpayers more money and making those drugs and the business of buying, selling and using them far more dangerous. Personally, I think that money can be better spent on preventative education and treatment for people with addictions who need help.
But should all drugs be legal and sold over the counter without a prescription? You have a lot of parents saying, “well if drugs are legal, my kids will do them.” This may seem like a good argument, but last time I checked, alcohol and cigarettes were legal, but there are still various barriers preventing minors from acquiring alcohol and cigarettes. Yet, they are both legal drugs that can be bought by adults at almost every corner gas station. Further, kids who are dying to do drugs will do so, but instead of turning to legal, safer drugs, they will turn to things like sniffing paint or other far more deadly means of getting high. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the legalization of such substances, combined with proper education would likely do far more good than the harmful, “zero tolerance, all drugs are evil and deadly and addictive, all the time” approach currently being pursued in schools and homes across the country. If you tell a kid that something is bad or dangerous, and they find out that it is not, that makes you a liar. Education and truth are the best policies in this regard.
It’s true that there are already a lot of medical drugs freely available for purchase at the drug store, no prescription required. They’re called “over the counter, ” or OTC medicines, but despite the damage drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can do to your liver or kidneys, they’re still nowhere near as effective at treating pain as the Schedule II and III drugs that are illegal to possess without a prescription. Now, if someone hurts themselves, lets say they cracked or bruised a rib, and there is nothing that can be done to fix it other than rest and taking it easy, under current laws, they need to have medical insurance or a lot of money to visit a doctor to examine them, just to tell them what they likely already know, and possibly write them a prescription for an effective treatment, like Vicodin or Percocet. While in the absence of these needless regulations, they could just drive to the pharmacy, pick up some pain medicine and be on their way.
People genuinely wonder why medical care is so expensive in the United States. In some other countries (god forbid!) they trust their citizens to go to a pharmacy, describe their symptoms to a pharmacist, and get basic medications relatively quickly and cheaply, without having to pay for a doctor’s visit, obtain a prescription, possibly undergo x-rays, and other bureaucratic nonsense before getting such simple things such as pain medications or antibiotics. So yes, there are addicts and abusers out there, and our government has used them to justify passing laws to make acquiring the proper medication on demand illegal.
Unfortunately, because of these silly laws, a friend I know had to go meet SWIM (Someone who isn’t me) to obtain what he considered would be the right dose to manage his pain for a couple days. Sounds insane doesn’t it, that he had to buy pain medicine on the street to heal his pain, because the system works against him. Again, driving prescription drugs underground to a black market only encourages criminals and feeds criminal activities, which perpetuate violence against the rest of us, and expose everyone to needless risk and expense.
Another popular argument (usually offered by police officers), is that drug users have victims. When I ask them to explain, I usually get the same responses that they go out and steal, rob and burglarize. Well that’s generally correct – those three crimes have victims. However, the act of placing something into your body does not. This would be analogous to banning driving because while driving, someone could hurt, kill or destroy the property of another. Ultimately, people can only rightly be held accountable for what they actually do, the harm they cause others, the property they damage, not their state of mind, their body chemistry, or the potential for harming others the police imagine comes from taking a drug. So please try and explain again on how the act of taking something in the privacy of your own home when done responsibly, and not being in the presence of a child, has a victim. “Well … you’re right.”
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma did end up pulling her bill after much criticism. If you do decide to go out and party make sure you do your research first on the true dangers of what you may be placing into your body.