The City of West Hollywood is distributing drug test kits to local restaurants and bars, including the venerable queer club The Abbey.
“This prevention can literally save someone’s life,” West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne said announcing the project. Shyne and Councilman John Erickson proposed the initiative to the West Hollywood City Council back in February, and it passed unanimously.
Packages being distributed contain tests that detect the presence of Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), or ketamine all of which can used to dose or "roofie" drinks. These drugs render the victim unconscious or compliant and are often associated with sexual assualts (especially "date" rapes).
How can you tell if you've been roofied? Most of these drugs are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, Healthline reports, and it can be difficult or impossible to tell if your drink has been dosed. Ketamine comes in liquid, powder, or capsule form. GHB is made as both a white powder and a colorless, odorless liquid. Healthline adds that GHB sometimes tastes a bit salty, and that the manufacturer of Rohypnol (which is a white, dime-sized pill that dissolves quickly in liquids) has changed the formulation so that it turns liquids blue. However, generic versions don’t have that feature.
These new tests are far more definitive in determining if the drugs are present in a drink. West Holly distributed about 400 kits on Monday, a spokesperson to LA Times, and additional kits can be requested (by bars and restaurants) from the city.
The Abbey bar in West Hollywood confirmed to the LA Times that it had received some kits Monday, but it did not offer additional comment.
The city effort follows a report earlier this year that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s West Hollywood station had 30 reports of sexual assaults between 2016 and 2021 involved a victim who believed their drink had been spiked.
Sexual assualts are underreported: according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, only "310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means more than 2 out of 3 go unreported." Equally disturbing is that only 25 of the offenders in those 310 reported cases are ever incarcerated.
West Hollywood bartenders have also gone through training to help them spot, stop, and respond to sexual assualts and the spiking of drinks.