New date rape drug causes concern

Etizolam is not FDA-approved, but can be purchased from overseas

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A strong drug is making its way on American soil and raising concerns.

Many are worried it's being abused and has even become the next big date rape drug.

It's called Etizolam -- a sedative that can cause temporary amnesia, and experts said it cannot be detected by most drug tests.

The drug (pictured) has been around in other countries for decades. It's not FDA approved to be made in the U.S., but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the state crime lab has found six cases in Florida so far where the drug has been used -- five of those cases have been in the past three months.

Now officials across the country are issuing warnings about Etizolam. Like Xanax or Valium, it can calm nerves and relieve stress.

It's gaining popularity among young people because it's cheap and easy to get.

Tons of overseas websites sell it for just a couple bucks a pill. They'll ship it to the U.S. in just days.

"Studies suggest it's ten times more potent than Valium or Diazepam," pharmacist Gary Roberts said.

Roberts, of Roberts Southbank Pharmacy, said Etizolam has strong effects on the body.

"The person that's taking it has no recollection," he said.

And even a small amount can cause amnesia.

But what sets it apart from other drugs used for date rape is that this one isn't traceable in most drug tests.

The drug is becoming a big concern at schools across the nation.

Administrators at the University of North Florida said they're not aware of any students using the drugs, and they hope it stays that way.

"We don't want to alarm and scare anybody but just kind of get the word out," said Shelly Purser, UNF director of Health Promotion. "We do a lot of classroom presentations, we go into residence halls, Party Safe 101.

"We're definitely going to look into it a little more."

Students said they're going to be careful.

"We never take drinks from strangers, of course. You kind of just make sure you watch your drink, never just leave it on the table or hand it to someone you don't know," UNF student Shi-Ann Atkins said. "Of course, we watch each other's back. That's what a friend is for."

U.S. customs and postal agents are stopping some shipments of the drug into the country. But right now, there are no real laws against it. Some people are starting to push for stricter federal regulations. 

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