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Venues in California to offer drink-spiking tests under new law

California has passed a new law to prevent spiking, now requiring venues to supply “roofie” testing kits from July 2024.

The kits will test for drugs including ketamine and GHB; users can use test strips, stickers or straws that will be able to detect signs of “date-rape” drugs.

The bill was introduced by assembly member Josh Lowenthal last April, citing concerns with a “crisis with fentanyl” and “sexual assault”.

“As we all know we have a crisis with fentanyl in California, but it is not the only crisis we have,” he said. “We have a crisis taking place that is resulting in sexual assault, that’s targeting primarily women and members of the LGBTQ+ communities.”

Drink spiking numbers in the UK have significantly risen. Credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.

“I have members of my staff that have been roofied,” he further explained. “There are members of the legislative body that have been roofied.”

Californian venues will be required to begin stocking the kits before July 1. The kits may cost money to purchase, but the bill says they must be sold at a “reasonable” price or offered for free.

The announcement follows the news in December that the UK Home Office would modernise the law to give a “clear” and “unequivocal” definition of spiking. The move was criticised by Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, for not going far enough. He told Mixmag that “the government’s failure to designate spiking as a distinct crime is disheartening and does not reflect the need to address this growing concern.”

BBC also reports that other changes to be made in the “modernisation” include training door staff to identify perpetrators and signs of spiking, funding research into testing kits, and creating an online tool to anonymously report incidents of spiking.

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