House Conservatives Oppose Banning 'Date Rape Drug'

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Warning that Congress was moving the country "another step closer to a national police state," Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) opposed a bill that toughens federal laws and prison sentences for possession of GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, more commonly known as the "date rape drug."

"Punishing possession of a useful substance because it potentially could be used in a harmful manner is as inconsistent with liberty as criminalizing the possession of handguns or cars," said Paul, a physician, in a debate on the House floor Monday evening.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 339 - 2, accepting minor revisions to it by the Senate. Paul was joined by Representative Helen Chenoweth-Hege (R-ID), also a conservative, in opposing the bill.

GHB is a nutrient that has been used successfully for 25 years to help treat cataplexy, insomnia, narcolepsy, depression, alcohol and drug addiction, and numerous other conditions, Paul said.

Paul attacked what he saw as Congress' penchant for federalizing every human misdeed rather than "uphold a constitutional oath which prescribes a procedural limitation by which the nation is protected from what is perhaps the worst evil of all - totalitarianism."

"I have used [GHB] for over 10 years on hundreds of patients and have advised thousands through my books and articles on the subject. I have not had one instance reported to me of adverse effects on my patients. GHB is the safest, most non-toxic sleep- inducing substance known," Paul said.

Congress passed the bill as jury selection got underway in the Michigan trial of four young men accused of spiking a drink with GHB and giving it to 15-year-old Samantha Reid on January 16th, 1999, at a party in Grosse Ile, an affluent Detroit suburb. Reid, who fell unconscious and vomited shortly after taking the drink, died the following day.

The trial is one of the first involving a death related to GHB. The four men are charged with manslaughter. A small dose of the drug, which is colorless and almost odorless, slipped into a drink will render an unsuspecting victim unconscious within 20 minutes, medical experts report. Victims frequently have no memory of what happened and the drug is difficult to trace.

According to Drug Enforcement Administration figures, GHB has been linked to at least 58 deaths since 1990 and to more than 5,700 recorded overdoses. Under the new legislation, the DEA would have the authority for the first time to seek federal criminal prosecutions against those possessing and distributing the GHB, which is already a controlled substance in 20 states.

Under the legislation, anyone who possesses, manufactures or distributes GHB could face a prison term of up to 20 years. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), the bill's House sponsor, told reporters that President Clinton indicated he would sign the bill.