CA to Require Drug Testing in Bars

( Beginning July 1, Californian bars and clubs will be required by law to offer drug-testing kits to patrons in an effort to reduce drink spiking and sexual assault. Assembly Bill 1013 will require all drinking establishments with a Type 48 license – a license that allows the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages without the need to serve food – to offer tests that reveal the presence of common date-rape drugs in a drink.

The approximately 2,400 affected establishments will also be required to have signage visible that declares, “Don’t get roofied!” and tells patrons they can ask staff for a kit. The term “roofie” is a slang term for Rohypnol, one of the most commonly used “date rape” drugs. A strong sedative designed for short-term use in treating insomnia, Rohypnol is both tasteless and colorless, making it difficult for a spiking victim to notice its addition to his or her drink.

The kits will have the ability to detect Rohypnol, gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (a form of Ecstasy), and ketamine, commonly used as a horse tranquilizer. The kits will take the form of straws, stickers, or test strips that can quickly show up the presence of these drugs, although the new law does not require that kits test for all three instantaneously.

The test kits will be made available on request either for no cost or a small fee payable by the patron. State Assembly member and owner of three bars, Josh Lowenthal, says the bill is designed to stop a “crisis” of drink-spiking that primarily sees “women and members of the LGBTQ communities” targeted for assault. He added that he had members of staff who had been spiked, and as the owner of several drinking establishments, he wanted to make an impact on the reportedly common crime. When the American Addiction Centers surveyed 1,000 people, half claimed to have been spiked at some point in their lives.

If a business that is subject to AB1013 does not comply with the new law, it could be at risk of losing its license. It will be the business’ responsibility to ensure that kits are available, meaning that if the local authorities do not have a kit distribution process in place, the business will need to purchase the necessary kits.

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