Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/24/1997 01:37 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                 
  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                 
  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                 
  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).                                            

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