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A “New” Problem Appears in the 1990s: The Birth of the Contemporary Date Rape Drugs Scare

Abstract

This chapter considers the emergence of the construct “date rape drug” in the 1990s and explains why it is a dubious one. The role of coerced drug use in propping up the by-then flagging War on Drugs is considered, as is the first round of campus activism regarding rape, which focused upon alcohol and offenders known to the victim, typically peers. The typification of the Hillory Farias and the Samantha Reid cases as the “named legislation” inspiration for the Date Rape Drugs Act is held up to scrutiny. Continued avoidance of the reality that the “big three” drugs in date rape drugs rhetoric—flunitrazepam, GHB, and ketamine—are typically taken voluntarily continued to be promulgated by legislators and the media.

Keywords

  • Date rape drug
  • Antidrug
  • War on Drugs
  • Hoffman-LaRoche
  • Rohypnol
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Insomnia
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Blackout
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • Hillory Farias
  • Samantha Reid
  • Date Rape Drug Act
  • Controlled Substances Act
  • Chloral hydrate
  • Noctec
  • Brock Adams
  • GBL
  • Synthetic panics
  • AquaDots
  • Party drugs
  • Club drugs
  • Date rape
  • Second-wave feminism
  • Victim disqualification
  • Victim blame
  • Binge drinking
  • Acquaintance rape
  • Stranger rape
  • Serial rape
  • Mark Perez
  • The Hangover
  • Ecstacy
  • MDMA
  • Molly
  • Xyrem
  • Melanie Sindone
  • Drug detector
  • K
  • k-hole
  • Richard Esposito
  • ElSohly and Salamone
  • Proposition 47
  • Marijuana
  • Criminal law
  • Criminal code

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Notes

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  15. 15.

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    Simon Elliott and Valerie Burgess, “The presence of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.” Forensic Science International, July 16, 2005; 151(2-3):289–92. The amounts in wine are too small to have an intoxicating impact on their own, but may, if not accounted for, affect lab tests.

  17. 17.

    Nora Fitzgerald, K. Jack Riley, et al, “A Report to the Attorney General from the Department of Justice Drug-Facilitated Rape Working Group, Office of Justice Program, U.S. Department of Justice,” June 26, 1998. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/pr/181396.pdf. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

  18. 18.

    CNN.com, “Toy contaminated with ‘date rape’ drug pulled,” November 8, 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/08/toy.recall/.

  19. 19.

    Emily Mahoney, “Aqua Dots trial: Jury awards $435K to Gilbert family,” Arizona Republic, June 19, 2015. http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/gilbert/2015/06/18/jury-rules-favor-damages-aqua-dots-gilbert-monje-family/28898923/. Retrieved March 15, 2016.

  20. 20.

    Debbi Farr Baker, “Public Safety, Regional: GHB-tainted bottle sickens toddler; mother arrested,” San Diego Union Tribune, May 6, 2008, B-2. Retrieved October 21, 2015. http://legacy.utsandiego.com/news/metro/20080506-9999-1m6pubsafe.html.

  21. 21.

    Via a search in ProQuest National Newspaper Database, completed in January 2009, for the years 1998, 2000, and 2008. National Newspaper Database has 25 of the largest dailies in the USA; it should be kept in mind that smaller media markets and papers would be excluded, as would weekly magazines and online publications. I used only the exact phrase “date rape drug(s)” and not other phrases or drug names like GHB, drink spiking, etc. As such, this search, designed for comparison over time, is only a partial glimpse of media interest in the topic. I excluded duplicate entries, such as the same article in a regional and national edition of the same publication, or the same wire story in multiple publications when verbatim.

  22. 22.

    Florida State rookie (at the time) Sebastian Janikowski was arrested near a nightclub in Tallahassee; most of the articles label the drugs he was arrested with as “date rape drugs,” but this theme does not dominate—or confuse—the rest of the articles, which are about his football activity.

  23. 23.

    Ted O’Connell, Lily Kaye, and John J. Plosay III, “Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB): A Newer Drug of Abuse,” American Family Physician, 62, December 1, 2000, 2478–2482.

  24. 24.

    Fitzgerald, Riley, et al., 1997. The authors found that the amount of newspaper coverage of date rape drugs decreased after 1996, and leveled off by the time they submitted their report. Of course, it still remained much higher than before 1996.

  25. 25.

    Fitzgerald, Riley, et al., 1997.

  26. 26.

    Weiss and Colyer, 2010.

  27. 27.

    In the wake of successful overturning of marital exemptions for rape, a countervailing expansion of unprotected victims to include cohabitants and even “voluntary social companions” emerged in some states. Effectively, such laws sought to limit criminal liability from any assailant who could reasonably claim to have been such a social companion, encompassing what criminologists knew was a significant portion of cases. These eventually receded.

  28. 28.

    Cassia Spohn and Julie Horney, Rape law reform: a grassroots revolution and its impact, (New York: Springer), 1992.

  29. 29.

    New York Radical Feminists, Rape Conference for Women Only, Washington Irving High School, New York City, April 17, Ephemera including handouts and conference agenda, 1971. These documents were later gathered in a published volume: Noreen Connell, ed., Rape: The First Sourcebook for Women, (New York: New American Library), 1974.

  30. 30.

    Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will, (New York: Bantam), 1975.

  31. 31.

    Maria Bevacqua, “Reconsidering Violence against Women,” in Stephanie Gilmore, ed., Feminist Coalitions: Historical Perspectives on Second-Wave Feminism in the United States, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008, 163–177.

  32. 32.

    M.P. Koss, C.A. Gidycz, N. Wisniewski, “The scope of rape: Incidence and prevalence of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of higher education students,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 1987, 162–170.

  33. 33.

    Alexandra Neame, “Revisiting America’s ‘date rape’ controversy,” Family Matters, 68, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Winter 2004.

  34. 34.

    “Moral entrepreneurs” are, in the words of sociologist Howard Becker, people who seek a wide-ranging change in cultural or social norms and practices by identifying, categorizing, and typifying some sort of disturbing social problem. In the case of crime or violence, such entrepreneurs often pull incidents from existing categories into new ones. When successful, moral entrepreneurs succeed in convincing opinion leaders and sometimes broad public opinion that the problem is urgent, unaddressed adequately, and distinct enough from other problems to be so labeled. See Becker, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. (New York: The Free Press), 1963.

  35. 35.

    Sarah E.H. Moore, “Tracing the Life of a Crime Category: The shifting meaning of ‘date rape’,” Feminist Media Studies, Vol. 11, No. 4, 2011, 451–465.

  36. 36.

    Marion Renault, “Group builds awareness of date rapes in Milwaukee’s bar scene,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, August 31, 2015.

  37. 37.

    Megan Hansen, “Police investigate two cases of date rape at Marin nightclub,” San Jose Mercury News, September 27, 2013. http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_24189306/police-investigate-two-cases-date-rape-at-marin. Retrieved October 26, 2015.

  38. 38.

    Amanda Hess, “The Date Rape Drug Is an Urban Myth. Let’s Put It to Rest,” Washington City Paper, October 28, 2009. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2009/10/28/the-date-rape-drug-is-in-an-urban-myth-lets-put-it-to-rest/. Retrieved October 26, 2015.

  39. 39.

    John W. Shepard, Jr, Daniel J. Buysse, et al., “History of the Development of Sleep Medicine in the United States,” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2005 Jan 15; 1(1): 61–82.

  40. 40.

    Mireya Navarro, “In South, Drug Abusers Turn to a Smuggled Sedative,” New York Times, December 9, 1995. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/12/09/us/in-south-drug-abusers-turn-to-a-smuggled-sedative.html. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

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    Weikel, Dan, “‘Rape Drug’ Battle Rages: Amid Growing Evidence of Misuse, Maker Fights Push to Outlaw Rohypnol,” Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1996. http://articles.latimes.com/1996-08-19/news/mn-35742_1_drugs-rohypnol-misuse. Retrieved October 28, 2015.

  42. 42.

    PR Newswire, “Hoffman La-Roche offers law enforcement testing capability in fight against Rohypnol misuse; company also intensifies efforts through advanced educational program,” June 14, 1996.

  43. 43.

    Butterworth was also one of the earliest prosecutors to file suit against the tobacco firms, an initiative that eventually went nationwide. In the USA, states may restrict substances at higher schedule levels than prescribed by the Federal government.

  44. 44.

    Florida Corrections record for Perez: Retrieved September 4, 2015. http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/flyer.do?personNbr=17868.

  45. 45.

    Burrell, Cassandra, “Penalties May Increase for ‘date-rape’ pill use,” Daily News (Bowling Green, KY), Associated Press, July 17, 1996, p. 7-A. Retrieved March 15, 2016. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1696&dat=19960717&id=a_oaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=u0cEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4891,1516888&hl=en.

  46. 46.

    In US legal settings, it is not uncommon for criminal defendants to remain silent either before the court or to allegations voiced in the press. This silence is usually on the advice of the defense attorneys, and should not be construed as an admission of guilt.

  47. 47.

    Jackie Hallifax, “Illegal Sedative Used on Rape Victims,” Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, June 9, 1996. http://articles.latimes.com/1996-06-09/news/mn-13222_1_roofie. Retrieved on September 4, 2015; Newsweek Staff, “Roofies: the Date Rape Drug,” Newsweek, February 25, 1996. http://www.newsweek.com/roofies-date-rape-drug-180048. Retrieved March 15, 2016.

  48. 48.

    Moore’s 2011 study of media coverage of the topic concurs that Rohypnol was depicted primarily as a menace to young, voluntary drug-takers prior to late 1995.

  49. 49.

    Bowler quoted in Weikel, 1996. The bill, which sought to make surreptitious drugging an aggravating circumstance which would trigger the “one-strike” felony mandatory penalty scheme in effect at the time, failed based on its various redundancies of existing law.

  50. 50.

    Sue McAllister, “Jury Convicts Twin Brothers in Date Rape Drugging Case,” Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1998. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jun/18/local/me-61130. Retrieved November 2, 2015.

  51. 51.

    “New Drug Finds Way into Date-rape Scenario,” Chicago Tribune, November 27, 1995. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-11-27/news/9511280007_1_roofies-rohypnol-date-rape-drug. Retrieved October 29, 2015.

  52. 52.

    John Algeo and Adele Algeo, “Among the New Words,” American Speech, v72, #2, 1997, 185

  53. 53.

    Federal drug scheduling provides a minimal level of regulation at the state level in the USA, but not a maximal one.

  54. 54.

    The growth in Rohypnol trafficking cases was real but lacked the galloping epidemic quality hinted at: “Between 1985 and 1991, DEA had three cases or less each year involving Rohypnol. In 1993, that number climbed to 15, primarily in Texas and Florida. By 1995, DEA had 38 Rohypnol investigations. By March 1996, DEA had initiated 108 cases, and the United States Customs Service had 271 cases.” (Terence Woodworth, The Abuse and Trafficking of Rohypnol, DEA Congressional Testimony, US Congress, July 16, 1996)

  55. 55.

    Adam Negrusz, “Detection of ‘Date-Rape’ Drugs in Hair and Urine, Final Report,” National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Document 201894, 2003.

  56. 56.

    Jenny Hope, “Drug rape myth exposed as study reveals binge drinking is to blame,” Daily Mail, February 16, 2007. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-436592/Drug-rape-myth-exposed-study-reveals-binge-drinking-blame.html. The article refers specifically to the upshot of a drug scare in Wales, discussed in the next chapter; Camber, Rebecca, “Date-Rape Drug Has Never Been Used in a Sex Attack Here,” Daily Mail, January 31, 2007, 7. Retrieved via Lexis-Nexis Academic, October 27, 2015. This article references the claim by law enforcement that other drugs and alcohol are typically found in lab tests.

  57. 57.

    See biyearly reports, including the most recent, L.D. Johnston, P.M. O’Malley, et al., “Monitoring the Future national results on drug use: 1975–2013: Overview, Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use,” Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, 2014. http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/.

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    NIDA, Community Drug Alert BulletinClub Drugs, 2004. http://archives.drugabuse.gov/ClubAlert/clubdrugalert.html. Retrieved October 27, 2015.

  59. 59.

    Tamar Nordenberg, “The Death of the Party: All the Rave, GHB’s Hazards Go Unheeded,” FDA Consumer, March/April, 2000. Retrieved October 27, 2015. http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/lps1609/www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2000/200_ghb.html.

  60. 60.

    Xyrem (sodium oxybate) is manufactured by Jazz Pharmaceuticals. In the law’s enactment in 2000, GHB was moved to Schedule I, but permitted for limited research in line with protocols from the less-restrictive Schedule III.

  61. 61.

    Explanations range from prior self-selection in drug seeking to what appears to be damage to serotonin-balancing mechanisms in the brain.

  62. 62.

    Nordenberg, 2000.

  63. 63.

    GHB is a popular club drug, and since purchase of either MDMA or GHB is an illicit transaction, users must rely on street dealers, who may substitute one for another due to fluctuating supplies or costs. Beginning with its rise in popularity in the 1990s, dealers might commonly substitute the cheaper GHB or one of its analogs. Judith C. Barker, Shana L. Harris, and Jo E. Dyer. “Experiences of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) Ingestion: A Focus Group Study,” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 39.2, 2007, 115–129.

  64. 64.

    Joachim D. K. Uys & Raymond J. M. Niesink, “Pharmacological aspects of the combined use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB): a review of the literature,” Drug and Alcohol Review 24, July 2005, 359–368; Zsófia Németh, Bernadette Kun, and Zsolt Demetrovics, “The involvement of gamma-hydroxybutyrate in reported sexual assaults: a systematic review,” Journal of Psychopharmacology 24, 9, 1281–1287, 2010.

  65. 65.

    Jackie Harrison Martin, “Remembering Samantha Reid: 10th anniversary of teen’s GHB death,” News-Herald (Downriver, Michigan), January 16, 2009. Retrieved October 28, 2015. http://www.thenewsherald.com/articles/2009/01/16/news/doc4970e3f098507043714937.txt.

  66. 66.

    Melanie Sindone, “One Sip Can Kill,” Scholastic Choices, Nov/Dec2000, Vol. 16, Issue 3. Via EBSCO Academic. The magazine is aimed at secondary schoolers.

  67. 67.

    According to the account of Farias’ death—of wide interest as it was thought to be the first documented GHB fatality—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of April 4, 1997 says that Farias’ serum level of GHB was 27 mg/L. “Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate Use—New York and Texas, 1995–1996,” 281–282. Recreational and therapeutic users routinely ingest 2000–8000 mg, and it was suggested by critics that 27 mg/L was too low to have been fatal and may have been endogenous. Ruth Rendon, “Two Mystery Deaths, Same Pal, no breaks,” Houston Chronicle, December 14, 1998. Joye Carter, then the Chief Medical Examiner of Harris County, Texas that investigated Hillory’s death, told Congress in the 1998 Hearings that the staff analysts recognized the serum amount was low, but attributed that to the passage of time since she had purportedly ingested the drug in a soda. Carter also reiterated the large number of substances involved in “date rape.” Transcript of 105th United States Congress, “Controlled and Uncontrolled Substances Used to Commit Date Rape. Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, 2nd Session on H.R. 1530, July 30, 1998.”

  68. 68.

    Ibid.

  69. 69.

    Ruth Rendon, “New Tests have Family Asking if ‘date rape’ drug really killed teen,” Houston Chronicle, February 7, 1997 and “DEA Disputes Family’s Claim about Drug Test,” Houston Chronicle, February 8, 1997.

  70. 70.

    GBL is described by the Enfield Independent (UK) as a drug that “helps sexual predators take advantage of young women” and does not mention its primary recreational use. Elizabeth Pears (2009), “‘Date rape’ drug banned following MP’s campaign,” August 30. http://www.enfieldindependent.co.uk/news/4572216.print/. Retrieved October 15, 2015.

  71. 71.

    A number of scientific articles have cautioned lab personnel about this problem. See, for instance: Simon P. Elliott, “Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) concentrations in humans and factors affecting endogenous production,” Forensic Science International, vol. 133, no. 1, 2003, 9–16; Marc LeBeau, Madeline A. Montgomery, Cynthia Morris-Kukoski, Jason E. Schaff, and Anna Deakin, “A Comprehensive Study on the Variations in Urinary Concentrations of Endogenous Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB),” Journal of Analytical Toxicology 30, March 2006, 98–105.

  72. 72.

    Drug Info, New South Wales (2014) GHB. http://www.druginfo.sl.nsw.gov.au/drugs/list/ghb.html. Retrieved September 14, 2015.

  73. 73.

    Roy Rivenburg, “Soap tests clean, so punk rocker won’t face charges,” Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2007. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/apr/17/local/me-soap17. Retrieved October 29, 2015.

  74. 74.

    “Emerging Drug Trends, Lancashire Drug and Alcohol Action Team (LDAAT) project,” Lancaster University, http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/projects/clubresearch/emergingdrugtrends.htm. Retrieved October 28, 2015; CESAR: Ketamine, University of Maryland, http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/ketamine.asp.

  75. 75.

    Simon Willis, Drugs of Abuse, 2nd edition, London: Pharmaceutical Press, 2005, p. 208

  76. 76.

    McDowell, “Marijuana, Hallucinogens, and Club Drugs,” 2005.

  77. 77.

    Willis, Drugs of Abuse, 209.

  78. 78.

    Hallucinations: the drug may cause genuine misperception of people, places, and circumstances, as opposed to the pseudo-hallucinations often associated with LSD, psilocybin, or MDMA, where users experience illusions or visions but are often aware, at least at moderate doses, that they are illusions or imaginative impressions facilitated by drugs.

  79. 79.

    James Gallagher, “Ketamine ‘exciting’ depression therapy,” BBC News (online), April 3, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-26647738. Retrieved September 14, 2015.

  80. 80.

    Jonathan Ferziger, “Man convicted for rape and sodomy,” UPI Archives, November 13, 1985. http://www.upi.com/Archives/1985/11/13/Man-convicted-for-rape-and-sodomy/8412500706000/.

  81. 81.

    Ronald K. Siegel, Fire in the Brain: Clinical Tales of Hallucination, New York: Dutton, 1992.

  82. 82.

    Karen Joe-Laidler, Karen and Geoffrey Hunt, “Sit Down to Float: The Cultural Meaning of Ketamine Use in Hong Kong,” Addiction Research and Theory, June 1, 2008, 16(3), 259–271. doi:10.1080/16066350801983673.

  83. 83.

    William J. Clinton, “Statement on Signing the Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Drug Prohibition Act of 2000.”

  84. 84.

    Negrusz, Adam and Gaensslen, R.E. “Analytical developments in toxicological investigation of drug-facilitated sexual assault,” Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, Vol. 376, No. 8, August 2003, 1192–1197.

  85. 85.

    The National Center for Women and Policing, “Successfully Investigating Acquaintance Sexual Assault: A National Training Manual for Law Enforcement,” May 2001. Retrieved November 2, 2015. http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/acquaintsa/participant/drugfacilitated.html.

  86. 86.

    Ibid.

  87. 87.

    California Penal Code § 222. “Every person guilty of administering to another any chloroform, ether, laudanum, or any controlled substance, anaesthetic, or intoxicating agent, with intent thereby to enable or assist himself or herself or any other person to commit a felony, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years.” Enacted in 1872. Amended by Stats.1984, c. 1635, § 78; Stats.2011, c. 15 (A.B.109), § 287.5, eff. April 4, 2011, operative Oct. 1, 2011

  88. 88.

    See, for instance, California Penal Code Section 261–269. In 1986, the US Congress amended its Federal criminal code on rape: November 14, 1986 [H.R. 4745] Sexual Abuse Act of 1986. 18 USC 2241, Public Law 99–654, 99th Congress. Among other changes, barely discussed in the hearings, was addition of “aggravated rape” where stupefying substances are administered by the assailant. Aggravation is accompanied by enhanced penalty to the underlying felony. The influence of this Code on day-to-day rape prosecution is limited in that Federal prosecutions are unlikely; State criminal codes prevail except under extraordinary circumstances. Nonetheless, the Federal Code sometimes serves as one of the model penal codes for states.

  89. 89.

    Owing to the constitutional limits on the legislature’s ability to modify a bill passed by referendum in California, like the laws that came from Proposition 47, the state legislature created this new crime instead—an action that is squarely within its powers as a legislative body.

  90. 90.

    Patrick McGreevy, “State lawmakers approve traffic relief and stricter penalties for sex offenders,” Los Angeles Times, September 6, 2015. http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-pol-bills-20150904-story.html. Retrieved same date.

  91. 91.

    Los Angeles Times, “Editorial: The Naughty and Nice of 2015,” December 27. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-christmas-naughty-nice-html-20151225-htmlstory.html. Retrieved same day.

  92. 92.

    California Senate Committee for Public Safety (2015), SB 333 History and Bill Analysis, April 28. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billAnalysisClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB333. Retrieved September 6, 2015. Of course, this is redundant in a number of ways described above, but earlier postpassage versions of this bill, SB333/AB46, just wanted to restore more draconian penalties for possessing the Big Three based on their core identity as date rape drugs, or at least reassign them to “wobbler status”—legislative lingo for giving district attorneys the power to charge as a felony or misdemeanor.

  93. 93.

    David Siders, “Jerry Brown signs racial profiling bill, vetoes date rape measure,” Sacramento Bee, October 3, 2015. http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article37586379.html#storylink=cpy. Retrieved October 10, 2015.

  94. 94.

    Jeremy Gans, Modern Criminal Law of Australia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 342. (Crimes Law 1900: 39.)

  95. 95.

    Janet Fife-Yeomans and Ellen Whinnett, “Jail for drink spiking; Laws revamp plan gets tough on tampering,” Herald Sun, April 13, 2007, 2nd edit., News 9. Lexis.

  96. 96.

    Steve Litz, “Ad Tries to Connect Pot with Date Rape,” NBC Miami 6, August 12, 2014, http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Ad-Tries-to-Connect-Pot-with-Date-Rape-271000431.html. Retrieved October 28, 2015.

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Donovan, P. (2016). A “New” Problem Appears in the 1990s: The Birth of the Contemporary Date Rape Drugs Scare. In: Drink Spiking and Predatory Drugging. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-57517-3_5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-57517-3_5

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