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Prop. 47 cleanup bill on date rape drugs clears first committee

Posted: April 14, 2015 2:29 p.m.
Updated: April 14, 2015 2:29 p.m.

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assembly Bill 46, authored by Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) cleared Assembly Public Safety committee on a strong bipartisan vote. The bill addresses a problem created by the passage of Proposition 47 last November which significantly reduced the penalty for being in possession of Rohypnol, GHB and ketamine—three drugs commonly known as “date rape drugs.” Law enforcement and sexual assault victim advocacy groups had expressed serious concern over how Proposition 47 will affect sexual assault prosecutions.

“The bipartisan passage of AB 46 today shows what can happen when Republicans and Democrats come together to combat sexual assault in our state. This diverse coalition demonstrates that many supporters of Proposition 47 did not intend to weaken laws designed to deter date rape. I am proud to have authored a real solution to combat this serious problem,” said Lackey of the passage of AB 46.

Because of the powerful chemical effects of date rape drugs, they leave victims particularly vulnerable to a sexual assault and likely unable to remember the encounter. Drug facilitated sexual assault is a severely underreported crime that requires laws like AB 46 proposes.

"Proposition 47, which was approved by voters in November, reduced possession of most drugs from felonies to misdemeanors. We, as prosecutors, believe stronger penalties are needed to deter possession of so-called 'date rape' drugs,'" Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. "I applaud Assemblymember Lackey for working to return this classification of drug crimes to felonies."

AB 46 will impose a felony crime for possession of date rape drugs with intent to commit sexual assault. Because the bill does not directly change Proposition 47, it does not need to voter approval to become law. If approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, AB 46 will provide another tool for prosecutors to use in date rape induced sexual assault cases.

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