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ANTI-ECSTASY LAW WORRIES PROMOTERS, ACLU.

Byline: Staff and Wire Services

The popular Amber Alert legislation signed Wednesday by President George W. Bush contains a provision to crack down on illegal use of Ecstasy and other drugs at nightclubs.

Critics in the Los Angeles music industry and the American Civil Liberties Union said the law - fast-tracked without public comment - could have a chilling effect on rock concerts and other events, in addition to the rave shows targeted by lawmakers.

``You could have hotels prosecuted, you could have sporting events prosecuted, basically anything or anywhere you could expect someone to try and use drugs,'' said Marvin Johnson, an ACLU lawyer.

A provision of the new law was originally introduced as the RAVE Act - or Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act - that was aimed at ``club drugs'' like Ecstasy.

The earlier version targeting drugs found at raves, concerts and other venues frequented by young people failed to pass Congress last year after complaints that the bill unfairly painted all raves and concerts as havens for illegal drug use.

The renamed ``Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act'' bill was modified to take out its original focus on raves and amended to the Amber Alert bill.

Opponents say broadening the focus makes the bill far more dangerous - putting at risk of federal prosecution the promoters of rock concerts, nightclubs, even Dodgers games.

``You will start seeing a hesitancy by promoters to put themselves at risk,'' said Harvey Kubernik, a Sherman Oaks record producer and concert promoter.

``You can almost see a chilling effect on shows, especially the kids of baby boomers. This has to make some people think twice about entering the music game.''

Roy Trakin, senior editor of Hits Magazine, a music trade publication based in Sherman Oaks, said the law would affect many large gatherings.

``It's going to be difficult for (a promoter) to get insurance, to police,'' he said. ``It raises a whole load of issues - not just raves, but rock concerts, baseball and football games are at risk.''

Concert promoters from Clear Channel Entertainment, Los Angeles, and Nederlander Concerts, which promotes shows at Staples Center and the Greek Theater, declined to comment on the bill.

The legislation is based on the federal ``crack house'' statute, which allows prosecution of people who knowingly allow their private residences or businesses to be used for the buying and selling of drugs.

The new provision would expand the statute to include places rented for temporary or one-time events like concerts or raves.

People convicted under the law would face prison terms or civil fines of up to $250,000 or twice the gross revenue of their particular event.

Los Angeles rave promoter Joey Luu of AMP Media said one effect of the law could be to weed out unscrupulous rave promoters who sell drugs at their events.

``This isn't going to affect us whatsoever,'' he said. ``I think this will eliminate those fake promoters from the rest of us.''

Lawmakers who supported the popular Amber Alerts package said they understood the concerns.

``Business owners have come to Congress and told us there are only so many steps they can take to prevent any of the thousands of people who may attend a concert or a rave from using drugs,'' said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

``They are worried about being held personally accountable for the illegal acts of others. ... Those concerns may well be overstated, but they deserve a fuller hearing.''

The office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a co-sponsor of the bill, did not return a call for comment Wednesday.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:597
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