San Francisco lawmaker proposes rave safety bill

April 27, 2011 6:01:19 PM PDT
Lawmakers in Sacramento are trying to find ways to make rave parties safer for the people who attend them. That action comes after several deaths because of drugs at those events.

A Southern California mom brought her story to Sacramento, and it didn't take long for lawmakers to take her side.

"I'm speaking not as a mother of the victim, but as a voice of a parent who wants something done now. Thank you," Grace Rodriguez told lawmakers. The tragic death of her 15-year-old daughter is still difficult for her to talk about, but Rodriguez has to, to convince lawmakers to make changes.

Last June, Sasha died of an overdose while at a rave at the Los Angeles Coliseum, a property partly owned by the state of California, where her family claims not enough medical personnel were there.

"How can we allow any of these events to happen?" said Rodriguez. "How can we allow for one person to die?"

The month before Sasha's death, two other people died after also overdosing on drugs at a rave, but that one was at the Bay Area's Cow Palace, another state-owned venue.

The Assembly Agriculture Committee unanimously approved tougher safety measures in place for any event at publicly-owned sites, not just raves, where more than 10,000 people are expected. They include prior approval of an action plan that addresses potential need for law enforcement, medical care and risk of drug use. The proposal is a compromise from an all-out ban on raves.

"Opponents criticized me for banning fun without seeing it firsthand," said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco. "So, last month, I went to Beyond Wonderland in San Bernardino to see for myself what happens."

Ma found raves can be done safely if the right precautions are in place. Still, opponents say the new restrictions might discourage rave promoters from holding events that a lot of young people are demanding.

"These issues of deaths are coming from bad drugs, not from the events," said opponent Liam Shy. "So if you want to deal with the issues, you have to deal with the drugs."

The intention of Ma's bill is to lessen the state's liability if deaths occur during an event. The state is among those being sued for $5 million over Sasha's death.


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