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Article 1

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If  facts are changing, law cannot be static.

 Felix Frankfuter

Source: Law and Politics

A Drug Used As A Weapon

 

One legal approach to the problem of drug facilitated assault is to identify the broad category of drug and alcohol facilitated sexual assault as rape achieved with a weapon (that is, the drug).

 

A weapon is actively employed or used by a perpetrator to ensure submission. Implicit within the “Drugs as Weapons” metaphor is a concern with the victim’s capacity to consent.

GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, is a powerful central nervous system depressant that is used illicitly, often for its euphoric and sedative effects but also for the commission of drug-facilitated sexual assault. GHB trafficking and abuse have become a particular concern to law enforcement and public health agencies because of increasing availability of the drug in some areas, sharp increases in ED mentions for GHB since the mid-1990s, and the use of GHB in the commission of drug-facilitated sexual assault. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in every region of the country report that GHB appears to be the substance most commonly used in drug-facilitated sexual assaults because of its powerful sedative properties. Gamma HydroxyButyrate commonly referred to as a date rape-drug, GHB was originally used as a substitute anabolic steroid for strength training. GHB has been used in the commission of sexual assaults because it renders the victim incapable of resisting, and may cause memory problems. GHB costs approximately $10-$20 per dose and is frequently mixed with alcohol.

As of January 2000, DEA documented 60 GHB-related deaths.[i] When used to commit sexual assault, the drug typically is mixed into victims' drinks--usually without their knowledge--to mask the drug's salty taste. GHB is rapidly absorbed and metabolized by the body. Detectable levels of GHB may remain in urine for approximately 8 to 12 hours and in blood for 4 to 8 hours after ingestion. Routine blood or urine testing do not screen for GHB; therefore, it is important to specifically request a GHB screen as soon after the assault as possible. Detectable levels of undigested GHB may be found in victim's vomit; vomiting is a common effect of GHB use.

On February 18, 2000, the "Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Prohibition Act of 1999" (Public Law 106-172) was signed into law, legislating GHB as a Schedule I controlled substance. GBL was also regulated under this law as a List I controlled chemical. Illicit use of GHB analogs may now be prosecuted as Schedule I substances under 21 U.S. Code § 813.  GHB analogs are treated as controlled substances under Federal law only if intended for human consumption. According to 21 U.S.C. § 813, "a controlled substance analog(ue) shall, to the extent intended for human consumption, be treated, for the purposes of any Federal law as a controlled substance in Schedule I." Thus, authorities can prosecute drug offenses involving GHB analogs in the same manner as offenses involving GHB. (See 21 U.S.C. § 802(32) for the definition of a controlled substance analog(ue).)[ii]

 


[i] DEA Congressional Testimony, Statement by:  Richard A. Fiano, Chief of Operations Drug Enforcement Administration, Before the:  Caucus on International Narcotics Control Date: July 25, 2000

[ii] National Drug Intelligence Center, 319 Washington Street, 5th Floor, Johnstown, PA 15901 Tel. (814) 532-4601 , FAX (814) 532-4690,  E-mail NDIC.Contacts@usdoj.gov

National Drug Intelligence Center, 8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1001, McLean, VA 22102-3840

Tel. (703) 556-8970, FAX (703) 556-7807,

Web Addresses: ADNET:  http://ndicosa,      

DOJ:  http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/       

LEO:  home.leo.gov/lesig/ndic/ 



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