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'Liquid ecstasy' used in rape to be banned By Sophie Goodchild, Home Affairs Correspondent 29 June 2003
Use of the drug dubbed "liquid ecstasy", which has been used in numerous drug-assisted rapes and sexual assaults, will be outlawed, David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, will announce this week.
The substance, GHB, or gammahydroxybutrate, will be categorised as a Class C drug and dealers will face stiff prison sentences
The sedative lowers inhibitions and produces euphoria. It takes between 10 minutes and an hour to have an effect.
Rape campaigners say that as many as half of rape cases reported to them in the past year have involved the use of GHB by attackers.
It is understood that the Government had been tracking the use of GHB for some time.
It had been prompted to act after examining expert evidence, including research from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction. "GHB is very harmful and we consider this to be a very serious issue," a Government source said.
The move has been welcomed by drug charities and rape-support groups, which have been lobbying the Government for a change in the law.
Until now, GHB has not been illegal although it has been a controlled substance.
Campaigners are also concerned that GHB is advertised on the internet, with instructions on where to find the ingredients and how to make the drug.
The Roofie Foundation, an expert body dedicated to dealing with drug rape, said it was "over the moon" about the decision to clamp down on use of the drug.
The foundation said the use of GHB had grown in the past few years after Rohypnol, which also has been used in rapes, was made illegal and given a Class C classification.
"GHB has been a major problem for police as its legal status has been in doubt," a spokesman said.
"At least now, they can bust people that are carrying GHB. I think it is important to have legislature against it because it gives the police a reason to arrest and process cases of people with GHB."
Drugscope also welcomed the decision to outlaw GHB because of the harmful way in which the drug can be used.
"DrugScope also supports the bold decisions made by this Government in listening to expert advice and [its] continued commitment to reviewing the classification of individual drugs," a spokeswoman said.
This is a thorny issue for folks who are whole-heartedly anti-prohibition for all drugs. On one side of the coin you want to remove the tool a rapist may utilise. That is equivalent to removing guns to prevent murder. Rapists are rapists with or without GHB. They claim that GHB is a controlled substance but there is obviously not enough control. Prohibition is a weak minded "solution". If a drug has a dangerously high expected use as a weapon then it should be treated as a weapon. Regulation is a far more sensible "solution". For example: If your over 18 (21?) you can buy GHB as long as you pass your background check and submit some personal information. This concept definitely steps in the arean of privacy rights but the WOD has proven futile and prohibiting yet another drug only prolongs the stupidity.