Amid Drink-Spiking Crisis, Massachusetts Senate Moves to Fund Test Kits

Lawmakers unanimously approved adding the amendment to their fiscal 2024 budget

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With reports of drink-spiking on the rise, the Massachusetts Senate voted Wednesday to fund drug testing kits to be distributed to bars, restaurants and other nightlife venues.

Lawmakers unanimously approved adding the redrafted Sen. Paul Feeney amendment to their fiscal 2024 budget.

The measure would direct $300,000 to the Department of Public Health to bulk purchase the testing kits and distribute them to nightlife establishments, study and recommend strategies to address the rising incidence of drink-spiking, and launch a public awareness campaign about the issue.

During a speech on the Senate floor, Feeney told the story of a constituent who was turned away from a Boston hospital after she was drugged at a house party. Hospital staff told her they would not test her for drugs unless she was reporting a rape or sexual assault. While some hospitals will do this testing, the senator said, others won't, preventing many victims from getting the care they need.

"They shouldn't have to play hospital roulette and guess which provider is going to test them for being involuntarily drugged at a nightclub," Feeney said.

In addition, without testing for the drugs, it is more difficult to file a police report as there is very little concrete evidence of the incident, the Foxborough Democrat said. He added that drink-spiking is almost always a crime followed by another crime, whether it be burglary, rape, assault or murder.

"Massachusetts has allowed a patchwork response to this and we have not caught up as a commonwealth to what's actually happening out there," Feeney said.

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