Rohypnol Prohibition Failing

Advocates of prohibition are never distracted by their failures. Despite the abject failure of every prohibition attempted by humankind, whenever a new substance abuse problem arises the solution is always another prohibition.

The painkiller/tranquilizer Rohypnol, called "roofies" by its recreational users, started to become popular in the mid-1990s, mainly in Texas and Florida.

Rohypnol, made by U.S. company Hoffman-La Roche in Mexico and Colombia, is used legally in 64 countries before surgery and to treat insomnia. It is banned in the United States.

Roofies are mainly used by teenagers to enhance an alcohol or cocaine high. Prohibitionists point to cases of rape involving the victim being drugged with roofies. Rape and drugging people are already illegal, and many substances have been used to immobolize victims of various crimes, with alcohol probably being the most common.

Despite the full efforts of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, use of roofies soared. One tablet cost as little as $1.50 in mid-1996 in south Florida, about $5 lower than the previous year. This greater availability comes after 42,000 pills confiscated between October 1994 and September 1995, and more than 136,000 pills between October 1995 and May 1996 in Florida alone.

Seeing prohibition's failure, police and lawmakers look to more prohibition as a solution. Legislators increased the criminal penalties for possessing and selling the drug, and the DEA wants to move the drug to the most restricted category.