California bars and nightclubs getting ready for new ‘roofie’ testing kit requirement

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FRESNO, Calif. — California is shaking things up in the roughly 2,400 bars and nightclubs across the state.

Assembly Bill 1013 was passed unanimously in the legislature and signed into law by Governor Newsom last year. It requires all bars and nightclubs to have drink spiking drug testing kits available upon request.

“These kits must test for controlled substances commonly used to spike drinks. The licensees can either choose to provide these kits at no cost or they can be sold at a reasonable amount, not to exceed the wholesale cost,” said Devin Blankenship of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The requirements must be met by July 1.

It’s something The Howlin Wolf in Fresno’s Tower District is working on.

“I think these are a great idea that these kits will be required to be available because you never know what might happen when you’re out,” said Annette Bencomo, general manager of The Howlin Wolf. “I don’t think any bar manager wants to see something like that happen in their bar, I hope that it doesn’t.”

That’s the same mindset Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal of Long Beach had when he introduced the bill.

“Aside from being a legislator, I’m also a restaurant and bar owner and it is unconscionable for bar owners to know their locations could be involved somehow indirectly in committing sexual assault,” said Lowenthal.

The testing kits usually include a strip, sticker or straw that can detect common “date rape” drugs.

“For all of us, we want to provide a safe environment. Drink spiking has gotten to epidemic levels, not just in California but across the U.S., and this is something we can do something about,” said Lowenthal.

Research by the American Addiction Centers found that around 50% of nearly 1,000 women and men surveyed have had their drinks or food spiked.

“Even I have been surprised at how big this problem is. There are members of my staff and legislature that have been roofied,” said Lowenthal.

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