As each of the approximately 12,203,391 Democratic presidential candidates parades across the country in an attempt to prove why they are the best future leader of America, let’s not forget that the current frontrunner, Joe Biden, bears a hell of a lot of responsibility for policies that fueled the current opioid epidemic, the mass incarceration of millions of black and brown people, and the death of rave culture in the United States. Goddammit, Joe.
Politico Magazine has published a comprehensive feature reminding the world that Creepy Uncle Joe was a major backer in the failed “War on Drugs,” taking a hard-line stance that led to the prosecution of drug users and authoring legislation that now stands in the way of opening safe injection sites (which public health experts say are an effective and necessary tool in fighting the opioid epidemic).
Among the many offenses Biden committed under his so-called anti-drug crusade was authoring the 2003 RAVE Act (the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act), which enabled prosecutors to target owners and operators of places where raves and music festivals are held, like warehouses or fields.
Here’s how Biden discussed raves in 2001, per Politico:
“If I were governor of my state or mayor of my town,” Biden said in a 2001 hearing on Ecstasy, “I would be passing new ordinances relating to stiff criminal penalties for anyone who held a rave. The promoter, the guy who owned the building, I’d put the son of a gun in jail!” Apparently referencing the annual Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nevada, Biden added, “There is no doubt about where these raves are: in the middle of the desert!”
Dehydrated, spiky-haired teens waving lasers to techno posed a national problem. This is how the Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center assessed out-of-control rave culture in a 2001 Information Bulletin:
By the late 1990s, raves in the United States had become so commercialized that events were little more than an exploitation of American youth. Today’s raves are characterized by high entrance fees, extensive drug use, exorbitantly priced bottled water, very dark and often dangerously overcrowded dance floors, and “chill rooms,” where teenage ravers go to cool down and often engage in open sexual activity.
How do you spot a “raver”? They “dress for comfort,” the bulletin notes. “Many wear loose shorts or very widelegged or baggy pants. Ravers wear T-shirts, bikini tops, tank tops, tube tops, and open-back halter tops to help keep cool.” And what do women ravers wear? “Some ravers, especially females, wear costumes to rave events, dressing as princesses, cartoon characters, or other fantasy figures that match the theme of the rave (e.g., futuristic, space, mystic).”
Biden, along with the government’s very “Dad” approach to raves, created what nonprofit Protect Our Youth calls “a more dangerous situation” by “discouraging legitimate EDM concert and festival organizers from enacting common sense safety measures to protect their patrons” like offering free water, air-conditioned rooms, or other services that could offer assistance to people on molly or other drugs. But because of the RAVE Act, event organizers are “afraid that these actions could be seen as encouraging drug use and therefore subject them to criminal prosecution.”
Biden seems to have some awareness that his crusade has been ineffective and even harmful, but, like other criticisms against him, has managed to deflect much of the responsibility (and zealousness) with which he authored the legislation. “I got stuck with, because I was chairman of the [Senate] Judiciary Committee, writing most of the drug legislation that occurred in [the 1980s and ’90s],” Biden recently said at a panel on the opioid crisis. “Big mistake was us buying into the idea that crack cocaine was different than powdered cocaine and having [different] penalties.”
Columbia University neuroscientist and department of psychology chair Dr. Carl Hart put it more bluntly, telling Politico Magazine that Biden’s laws effectively “decrease the likelihood that somebody is gonna help someone who is overdosing.”
“We’re still seeing the damage of Biden’s laws to this day.”