Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/24/1997 01:37 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 69 "An Act relating to designating flunitrazepam as a schedule IA controlled substance; and providing for an effective date." REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY testified in support of HB 69. He stated that HB 69 would add the benzodiazepine, Rohypnol, to the list of controlled substances. The generic name of Rohypnol is flunitrazepam. He observed that there is a case pending which involves the extradition of a person from Portland to Alaska on charges of drug induced rape. There have been 1,800 arrests in Florida over the past two and one-half years involving Rohypnol. Representative Vezey discussed current statutes regarding sexual assault penalties. He emphasized that Alaska already has laws against sexual assault. Sexual assault involving the induced use of drugs is a more serious crime and carries a heavier penalty. Alaskan sexual assault laws are not being amended. He explained that by making Rohypnol a controlled substance an attempt is being made to intercept perpetrators before they have a chance to commit a crime. Representative Vezey explained that Rohypnol is not the only benzodiazepine drug used for sleeping disorders. All other benzodiazepines except Rohypnol are listed as Class A controlled substances. He noted that Rohypnol is similar to Valium but ten times as strong. Rohypnol is classified by HB 69 as a Class A substance to be consistent with other similar controlled substances. While Rohypnol can be screened it is not part of the current screening process. An additional test would be required. Representative Vezey observed that a person was recently arrested in Anchorage with 272 tablets of Rohypnol. This person cannot be prosecuted under state law. Rohypnol is too complicated for a street laboratory to make. Although 2 Rohypnol is not for sale in the United States, it is available over-the-counter in Mexico and Latin America. There have been several deaths where Rohypnol was used in connection with heroin or cocaine. He reiterated that the intent is to intercept the drug before a crime can occur. In response to a question by Co-Chair Therriault, Representative Vezey stressed that rape is a crime where the victim is victimized by the enforcement process. Representative Grussendorf spoke in support of the legislation. Representative Kohring spoke in support of the legislation. He MOVED to report SSHB 69 out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal notes. Co- Chair Therriault OBJECTED for purposes of further discussion. GEORGE TAFT, DIRECTOR, CRIME LABORATORY, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, ANCHORAGE testified via the teleconference network in support of HB 69. He reiterated that there is a case pending for possession of 272 tablets that was submitted with heroin. Representative Davies asked what penalties are associated with possession. Representative Vezey explained that possession of more than 25 tablets would be a Class C felony, attempting to contribute to a minor would be a Class B felony, use without consent would be an Unclassified felony, and possession of less than 25 tablets would be a misdemeanor. He observed that the drug is not legal for sale in the United States. Representative Davies asked if there are other classes of drugs that have the same street utility. Mr. Taft replied that there is another drug, gamma-Hrdroxybutyrate, that is causing problems. Representative Vezey noted that gamma- Hrdroxybutyrate is a street drug. He observed that there are lots of chemical variations. He noted that this drug is the subject of discussions for additional legislation. Representative Kohring restated his motion to MOVE the legislation. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. SSHB 69 was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with two zero fiscal notes; one by the Department of Law (dated 2/13/97), and one by the Department of Public Safety (dated 2/13/97).