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Legal Chemicals Being Used for Date Rape.

Twenty states have passed laws to protect women from the effects of the date rape drug, GHB, but almost as soon as the statutes were signed, criminals found ways to use perfectly legal substitutes. These odorless, tasteless chemicals mix easily in drinks and render the victim unconscious. GHB also has cropped up on college campuses and at rave (all-night dance) parties.

To combat these GHB substitutes, legislators in Pennsylvania strengthened their "analogue" statutes by enlarging them to include chemicals that have "substantially similar structures or substantially similar effects."

A prior state law, one of the strongest date rape statutes in the nation, makes use of any substance to facilitate sexual assault a first-degree felony. Senator Jane Earll and Representative Thomas Gannon used that law as a springboard to successfully draft the new law that bans analogue drugs such as the GHB substitutes. The lawmakers also said that legislators should turn to an overlooked part of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which allows enactment of a "controlled substance analogue statute."

One of the more worrisome analogues of GHB is a widely used chemical solvent, gamma butyrolactone (GBL). Last year, more than 140 million pounds of GBL was produced for industrial uses. It's not supposed to be used as a drug. But drink GBL and it turns into GHB inside the body. It can be sold as GHB for three times its price by dealers.

Another chemical, 1,4 BD (1,4 butanediol) has also appeared on the illicit drug scene. It too turns to GHB when ingested. Last year, more than 800 million pounds of 1,4 BD were made for use as an industrial degreaser and in making plastics.

Scientific papers easily available on the Internet have identified other legal chemicals that turn to GHB after ingestion. And it's only a matter of time before drug dealers switch to using them. Earll and Gannon say that an analogue statute modeled after the federal language is the best way states can get out in front of this issue.
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Conference of State Legislatures
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Publication:State Legislatures
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
Previous Article:Illinois Proposes New Gender Violence Act.

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