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U.S. House passes bill against GHB

From U-Wire
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 2, 2000
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ANN ARBOR, Mich.-The first piece of legislation the U.S. House of Representatives passed in the new century has made one of the most prominent drugs on college campuses a federally-controlled substance.

The "Samantha Reid/Hillory J. Farias Date Rape Control Prevention Act of 1999," named in memory of two teenagers who died after unknowingly ingesting the drug GHB, passed by a margin of 339-2 in the House of Representatives Monday night.

GHB, formally known as gamma hydroxbutyrate, has been used both as a date-rape drug and for recreational purposes. Nineteen deaths nationwide have been attributed to the drug.

Reid, of Rockwood, Mich., died after drinking a soda spiked with GHB at a January 1999 party. Traces of GHB were also found in the body of university student Courtney Cantor, who died after falling from her sixth-floor Mary Markley Residence Hall window in 1998.

Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who co-sponsored the bill along with Congressman Fred Upton, R-Mich. and Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich. in the Senate, said before the vote, "it's been a lot of work over the last three years. It will be good to have this vote."

The bill had passed by large margins in both the House and the Senate last year but was unable to make it through for final approval before the new year. The House approved the Senate's version of the bill, allowing it to avoid time in a conference committee and therefore pass through to President Clinton more quickly. David Woodruff, Upton's press secretary said the Senate made only "small legislative changes" to the House's original bill.

The law makes GHB a Schedule One drug - ranking it among drugs like heroin and cocaine - which, Woodruff said, is completely warranted.

"We're dropping the hammers on sexual predators who are trying to take advantage of young girls," Woodruff said. Rapists "use it as a tool. It's no different than pulling a gun or pulling a knife to rape somebody."

"The next step," Woodruff said, "is to replace the hodgepodge effort of state laws."

One of the two votes against the bill came from Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. Paul's Press Secretary Thomas Lizardo said the congressman voted against it "primarily because it involved federalizing a criminal law, which is not consistent with his oath to uphold his Constitutional vows."

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