Pubdate: Thu, 29 May 2003
Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC)
Copyright: 2003 Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Author: Bill Piper
Note: The writer is associate director of the National Affairs Drug Policy 


I'm responding to a recent letter in your paper by Rep. Howard Coble on the 
RAVE Act, which is factually inaccurate (April 22, "RAVE Act targets drugs, 
not parties").

Property owners have much to fear from Rep. Howard Coble's RAVE Act. Under 
the law, property owners can be fined and imprisoned for the drug crimes of 
their customers, even if they are not involved in drugs in any way -- and 
even if they take steps to stop drug offenses on their property. A series 
of legal cases, most recently United States v. Brunet and United States vs. 
Pfeffer, have ruled that the government can do this. Courts have argued 
that it doesn't matter what property owners intend; all that matters is 
what their guests intend. If they open their property to the public, and 
one or more people use drugs on it (even against the owners' will), the 
property owners can be fined and jailed.

This isn't what Congress intended, but it's what the courts allow.

Rather than rein in an out-of-control judiciary, Rep. Coble chose to make 
it easier to punish innocent people, and business owners in his district 
will pay the price.

Bill Piper, Washington
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