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Drug-testing kits to be offered to patrons in California bars this summer

LOS ANGELES, CA - THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2023 - A bartender pours a cocktail at Loreto in Frogtown. (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)
A bartender pours a cocktail at Loreto in Frogtown. A new state law will require bars to sell or offer free drug-testing kits to patrons. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

California bars and nightclubs will be required starting July 1 to offer or sell drug-testing kits to patrons who suspect someone has tampered with their drink.

Assembly Bill 1013 will require bars and nightclubs that have a Type 48 license to sell or provide at no cost drug-testing kits and have visible signage advertising the kits, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced this week.

The department's required signage for bars and nightclubs is available on the state agency's website. The sign will say, "Don't get roofied! Drink spiking drug test kits available here. Ask a staff member for details."

The test device can be a test strip, a straw or stickers that are used to detect the presence of drugs used to incapacitate victims.

The kits test for Rohypnol (flunitrazepam, also known as "roofies"), ketamine and gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (liquid ecstasy), but they are not required to test for all three at once.

About 2,400 business with Type 48 licenses across the state will have to comply with the new requirements or face administrative actions affecting their licenses. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control did not specify what the actions would be.

Cities including West Hollywood and Long Beach passed initiatives in the last two years to offer their local bars and restaurants similar date-rape drug-test kits.

Read more: Long Beach’s anti-‘roofie’ initiative: Test kits for your bar drink. Here's how they work

Both cities launched their own testing programs after consistent annual reports of people who believed they had been drugged by a spiked drink.

The city of Long Beach's Health and Human Services Department publishes a list of businesses and organizations that participate in its SipSafe Long Beach program, through which patrons can get a free test.

Under the new state law, if cities do not have an existing drug-testing kit distribution program, business owners will have to find and purchase the kits on their own.

How does the test kit work?

Testandgo and Drink Smart Drink Safe are among several companies that sell tests that detect gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid and ketamine. A majority of the test strips use the same process for detecting a spiked drink.

Drink Smart Drink Safe sells a test coaster that contains two test strips. One is to the left and one is to the right side of the coaster. Each test has two spots, labeled “A” and “B.”

When testing your drink, you need to place drops of your beverage onto both the “A” and “B” spots of a single test. Use your finger to place the drops, then smear them gently and wait for the liquid to dry.

If the test spot turns blue, your drink has been tainted. A pinkish tint means the drink contains ketamine; a greenish tint means it contains gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.