DRUG-INDUCED RAPE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT ACT OF 1996.
The Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act criminalized the intent to commit a violent crime (including rape), wherein the perpetrator provides a controlled substance to an unsuspecting victim. While distributing controlled substances was already a federal crime (Controlled Substances Act), this legislation
targets the problem of date rape drugs. Flunitrazepam is named in the act, as the
effects of this drug cause unknowing victims to become so submissive that they are
an easy target of a rapist. Those convicted of distributing even a single dose face
sentences of up to 20 years in prison, and the penalties for possession include both
ﬁnes and 3 years’ imprisonment.
Flunitrazepam, with a brand name Rohypnol, is commonly called Rooﬁe, Mexican Valium, and R-2. A benzodiazepine (tranquilizer), with up to 10 times the strength of Valium, Rohypnol is a quick-acting sedative, marketed in many countries as a remedy for insomnia and as a preanesthetic. Rohypnol is not approved for either medical or therapeutic use in the United States, and possession, distribution, and manufacture of the drug are illegal. At the time of the enactment of the legislation, this low-cost sedative quickly dissolved in liquid without any trace of taste, color, or odor. It chemically induces drowsiness, confusion, and amnesia, renders the user unconscious, impairs judgment, and when mixed with alcohol,is potentially lethal. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raised speciﬁc concerns about the impairment of mental judgment and anterograde amnesia, whereby the user forgets all events while under the inﬂuence of the drug. Many victims of Rohypnol-facilitated rape do not realize that they have been assaulted until they are beyond the 60-hour maximum time wherein the ingested drug can be detected in the human body.
The DEA and legislators were concerned about the growing use of date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol and gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB), as the pattern of illegal drug use changed in the 1990s. Frequently associated with Rave parties, the use of these inexpensive drugs, along with MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy methamphetamine, street name Ecstasy), grew in popularity. Since the enactment of this legislation, manufacturer Hoffman-LaRoche reformulated Rohypnol so that it takes much longer to dissolve and changes the color of the liquid to blue. However, even with these changes to the chemical properties of the drug, the medical and legal profession caution that newer illicit date rape drugs continue to be stealth in their detection, and are formulated to be even more efﬁcient and quick-acting. See also:
Sexual Assault, Drug-Facilitated.