TIME Opinion

Think Tank Tells Women How to Avoid Sexual Assault: Stop Getting ‘Severely Intoxicated’

AEI

Video says it’s not what men put in women’s drinks, but how many drinks women have

In a vlog titled “The Factual Feminist,” Caroline Kitchens, a senior research associate at conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, undertakes a MythBusters-style takedown of the threat posed by date rape drugs, suggesting that they are far less common than most women think. But it’s not her skepticism of Roofies that’s problematic — it’s the way she proposes women stop blaming these mythical drugs for the consequences of their own drunken decisions.

The video’s opening question — just how frequently drug facilitated sexual assault occurs — is a valid one. And Kitchens cites several studies that find the incidence to be quite low. Given the relative scarcity of sexual assaults that take place after a woman’s drink has been drugged, she says, “the evidence doesn’t match the hype.”

But it’s unclear exactly what hype Kitchens is referring to. The vast majority of messaging by sexual assault support and prevention groups resorts to awareness, not hysteria. RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, offers advice to help women protect themselves from sexual assault. Among the group’s suggestions are to “be aware of your surroundings” and “trust your instincts.” Not exactly the picture of fear-mongering. RAINN also suggests refraining from leaving your drink unattended and accepting drinks from strangers, but these tips constitute common sense more than, in Kitchens’ words, “conspiracy.”

Aside from this exaggerated depiction of widespread panic, Kitchens’ debunking of the rampant Roofies myth is largely harmless. That is, until she begins to search for a reason to explain this imbalance between perception and reality. “Most commonly, victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault are severely intoxicated,” Kitchens says, “often from their own volition.” Blaming date rape drugs, she suggests, is “more convenient to guard against than the effects of alcohol itself.” Women would rather blame a “vague, improbable threat,” she says, than take responsibility for their own actions.

It may be true that date rape drugs are used infrequently, but that does not give carte blanche to shift the blame from perpetrator to victim. No, women shouldn’t be unnecessarily panicked about the threat of date rape drugs. But neither should they be shamed for the size of their bar tabs. Because no matter how short her skirt or how strong her drink, a woman never asks to be raped. It takes a rapist to rape a woman.

TIME Drugs

Go Inside the Harvest of Colorado’s Most Controversial Marijuana Strain

Take a look at how Charlotte's Web transforms from plant to medicine.

The Stanley brothers of Colorado grow a strain of cannabis called Charlotte’s Web on a farm near Wray, Colo. An oil made from the plant is being used to treat children with epilepsy in Colorado and California and is in high demand throughout the country. Until this year, the Stanleys cultivated and sold Charlotte’s Web as medical marijuana. But because the plant meets the legal definition of hemp, containing less than 0.3 percent THC, the Stanleys are hoping they will be legally allowed to ship Charlotte’s Web oil across state lines.

TIME Drugs

Colorado Health Officials Recommend Pot Brownie Ban

Inside The Champs Counter-Culture Trade Show
An instant brownie mix by Blazin' Brownies sits on display during the Champs Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Jacob Kepler—Bloomberg / Getty Images

State health officials warned that pot-laced edibles posed a heightened risk to children

Colorado health officials are urging lawmakers to consider a statewide ban on all appetizing pot-laced products,short of “lozenges and tinctures,” according to a statement released Monday by the state’s health department.

“Edibles pose a definite risk to children,” read the statement, first covered by local news broadcaster WDBJ7, “and that’s why we recommended limiting marijuana-infused products to tinctures and lozenges.”

The proposal comes on the heels of a video posted to the Denver Police Department’s official YouTube account warning parents of trick-or-treaters to watch out for marijuana-infused candy this Halloween.

TIME medicine

Child Medication Errors Occur Every 8 Minutes, Study Says

pills
Getty Images

According to a study in the journal Pediatrics

Every eight minutes, a child experiences a medication error like taking the wrong drug or consuming too much, according to a new study published on Monday.

Researchers looked at out-of-hospital medication errors in the National Poison Database System from 2002 to 2012 and found that more 200,000 mishaps are reported to U.S. poison control centers every year, noted the study in the journal Pediatrics. In about 30% of those cases, the child is under age 6.

Nearly 82% of medication errors were from liquid medicine, followed by tablets and capsules at 14.9%, the researchers said. They added that errors increased as kids’ ages decreased, and that 27% of the mistakes occurred when a child was accidentally given the same medication too soon.

Twenty-five of the children died as a result of the errors during the 11-year study period, but overall the vast majority of the cases did not require treatment.

The study authors argue that medication errors are a significant public-health problem that needs more attention. One way to cut down, they suggest, is by making drug packaging and their labels more clear when it comes to directions and dosing.

TIME Drugs

Denver Police Warn Trick-or-Treaters of Marijuana-Infused Candy

"Once that candy dries, there's really no way to tell the difference between candy that's infused and candy that's not infused"

Denver police have warned parents to beware tricks rolled inside Halloween treats this year: marijuana-infused candy.

The Denver police department posted a YouTube video on Monday that shows how difficult it is to tell ordinary candy apart from knock-off candy that edible marijuana manufacturers buy in bulk and spray with a hibiscus hash oil.

“Once that candy dries, there’s really no way to tell the difference between candy that’s infused and candy that’s not infused,” said Patrick Johnson, proprietor of Urban Dispensary, one of several marijuana retailers that have cropped up across the state since the substance was legalized for recreational use last year. “There’s really no way for a child or a parent or anybody, even an expert in the field, to tell you whether or not a product is infused or not.”

His recommendation? Trash any candy that isn’t sealed in a recognizable, brand-name wrapper.

TIME medicine

FDA Approves Combined Hepatitis Drug

Harvoni
Harvoni, the first single medication to treat hepatitis C, was recently approved by the FDA. Gilead Sciences

Harvoni is the third hepatitis C drug approved in the past year

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first single medication to treat hepatitis C on Friday, green-lighting one pill in the place of multiple treatments. The new drug, Harvoni, is the third hepatitis C drug approved in the past year.

“With the development and approval of new treatments for hepatitis C virus, we are changing the treatment paradigm for Americans living with the disease,” said FDA official Edward Cox.

Harvoni, developed by Gilead Sciences, will be the first hepatitis drug to require a pill only once daily. A full 12-week treatment will cost $94,500, less than existing treatments, Reuters reports.

TIME NFL

Report: Adrian Peterson Could Face Arrest After Pot Confession

Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings plays against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 7 in St. Louis. Michael Thomas—Getty Images

NFL player's admission he 'smoked a little weed' could violate bond conditions

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson could be arrested again after admitting he used drugs, which would violate his bond conditions, reports FOX 9 in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

According to the report, Montgomery County prosecutors have filed documents to have Peterson arrested again after Peterson admitted to a staffer that he “smoked a little weed” before giving a urine sample on Wednesday.

The district attorney has reportedly asked the judge to set aside Peterson’s $15,000 bond.

FOX 9 reports that there likely won’t be any action on Thursday, because the judge presiding over Peterson’s case has a hearing scheduled for Friday morning.

Peterson was arrested and indicted in September on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after authorities said he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch.

A tentative trial date for the week of Dec. 1 was set on Wednesday. On the same day, Peterson appeared in a Montgomery County, Texas, courtroom, but did not enter a plea.

The 29-year-old faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted on the charges. He agreed to be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list while his investigation is ongoing.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Drugs

Colorado Governor: Legalizing Marijuana Was ‘Reckless’ Decision

Hickenlooper down in poll
Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper talks to media near the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, September 17, 2014. RJ Sangosti—Denver Post/ Getty Images

John Hickenlooper admonishes the 55% of his electorate that approved it

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called the legalization of marijuana a “reckless” decision, reaffirming his longstanding opposition to the vote that legalized the recreational use and sale of marijuana in 2012.

Hickenlooper, who is seeking re-election in November, initially hesitated to use the word “reckless” for a law that received backing from 55% of the electorate, the Durango Herald reports.

“I’m not saying it was reckless because I get quoted everywhere,” the Democratic incumbent said during a Monday debate with Republican challenger Bob Beauprez. “I opposed it from the very beginning,” he continued. “What the hell. I’ll say it was reckless.”

Hickenlooper has previously warned that the legalization of marijuana could have unintended consequences for public health and has previously vowed in an interview with the Durango Herald‘s editorial board to “regulate the living daylights out of it.”

[Durango Herald]

TIME Drugs

Police: 4-Year-Old Took Heroin to Day Care

(SELBYVILLE, Del.) — Delaware State Police say a 4-year-old girl took hundreds of packets of heroin to her day care center and began passing it out, thinking it was candy.

Police say several children who received the packets Monday went to the hospital as a precaution, but none of the packets were actually opened and all of the kids were released after being examined.

The girl’s mother, 30-year-old Ashley Tull of Selbyville, was charged with child endangerment and maintaining a drug property. She was arraigned Monday and released on $6,000 bond. She did not immediately return a call left at a home listing Tuesday.

Police say the girl unknowingly brought the heroin to the center when she switched backpacks. Police say the backpack contained nearly 250 packets of heroin, all labeled “Slam.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 3

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. With 3D printing, prosthetic technology is poised to change millions of lives.

By Tom McKay in Mic

2. Dysfunctional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security undermines its mission.

By Daniel Kaniewski in The Hill

3. The web isn’t killing newspapers. Print readership has been in decline for 20 years.

By Whet Moser in Chicago Magazine

4. Skyrocketing drug traffic has deeply affected life on Indian reservations at the US-Mexico border.

By Shannon Mizzi in Wilson Quarterly

5. With Chinese elites joining the movement, the protests in Hong Kong could yield a partial win.

By Zack Beauchamp in Vox

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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