'I would put the son of a gun in jail': Joe Biden said in a 2001 hearing that he wanted to criminalise raves and 'lock up' rave promoters

Screenshot via C-SPANFormer Vice President Joe Biden at a 2001 hearing for the RAVE Act.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate, said in a 2001 Senate hearing that he believed local officials should criminalise rave parties and “lock up” promoters in an effort to crack down on ecstasy.
  • Biden said: “If I were governor of my state or the mayor of my town, I would be passing new ordinances relating to stiff criminal penalties for anyone who holds a rave, the promoter, the guy who owns the building, I would put the son of a gun in jail.”
  • The hearing, hosted by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, was over the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, or the RAVE Act.
  • Biden also said localities could use the “crack-house legislation” he authored in the 1980s to crack down on locations that held raves.
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Former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate, said in a 2001 Senate hearing he believed local officials should criminalise rave parties and “lock up” promoters in an effort to crack down on ecstasy.

The hearing, hosted by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, was over the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, or the RAVE Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that Biden introduced and sponsored in an effort to bolster federal regulation and crackdowns on the party drug ecstasy, also known as MDMA.

“I think this is a local problem,” he said about raves, parties at which ecstasy is commonly taken. “If I were governor of my state or the mayor of my town, I would be passing new ordinances relating to stiff criminal penalties for anyone who holds a rave, the promoter, the guy who owns the building, I would put the son of a gun in jail, I would change the law.”

During the hearing, Biden – who had a long record of cracking down on drugs and drug use during his 36 years in the Senate – expressed concern that unless the federal government regulated the drugs and local governments stepped in to stop raves, ecstasy could become the latest drug fad to sweep across the country.

He continued: “There’s no doubt about where these raves take place, in the middle of the desert. Arrest the promoter, and find a rationale unrelated to drugs. For example, I’m the guy who authored the crack-house legislation. We can use the crack-house legislation to tear down these buildings.”

The “crack-house legislation” Biden referenced is a section of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 he cosponsored called the 1986 Emergency Crack Control Act, which gave the federal government greater authority to shut down “crack houses” and punish their owners and managers.


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Politico Magazine reported last month that the law specifically made it a federal crime to “rent or use” any place for the purpose of “manufacturing, distributing or using any controlled substance” and allowed authorities to prosecute those who “manage or control any place … and knowingly … make available for use, with or without compensation, the place for the purpose of unlawfully … using a controlled substance.”

Within the context of ecstasy and raves, Biden said the law could be applied to crack down on clubs and buildings where raves take place.

More recently, according to public-health experts cited by Politico Magazine, the “crack-house law” is now a major impediment for cities and towns that want to limit overdose deaths by creating safe injection sites, which allow people struggling with addiction to inject heroin with clean needles and under the supervision of medical professionals.

Biden said in the hearing, “I know of no other drug I’ve been exposed to studying that has such a profile in the circumstances under which its consumed as this drug,” later adding, “so I think we better send out a message to the local officials that if you are able to eliminate the circumstances and the places under which raves took place and/or policed those which on their face are legitimate, you would cut into this in an incredible way.”

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