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CLINTON SIGNS LAW AGAINST DATE-RAPE DRUG

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President Clinton Sunday made it a federal crime for anyone to use the so-called "date rape drug" in order to incapacitate an intended victim.

Clinton announced he had signed the Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996 at the end of a two-day visit to Colorado. After the airport announcement he flew on to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to prepare for his second and final debate against Republican Bob Dole."Today I sign legislation to crack down on criminals who employ illegal drugs in a sick attempt to facilitate their violent crime," Clinton said. "This law will strengthen penalties against anyone who uses the date-rape drug Rohypnol in connection with violent crime."

The law toughens the penalties to those who traffic in the drug, making it comparable to the penalties that apply to the manufacture, distribution, importation and exportation of heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs.

Possession of more than one gram of the drug can lead to a prison term up to 20 years and a fine up to $1 million.

The law also applies to other illegal drugs used with the intent to commit a violent crime.

Clinton said even though the drug is illegal to produce or prescribe in the United States, sometimes it is illegally obtained by criminals to incapacitate victims.

"We must do everything we can to stop it," he said.At Denver's airport, Clinton was flanked by a number of police officers, with Air Force One as the backdrop. He took the opportunity to crow about new statistics that show a declining trend in violent crimes.

Final 1995 crime statistics released Sunday by the FBI showed that the number of violent crimes dropped 3 percent.

"This is good news for Americans. It shows that law-abiding citizens, working with police, can take back our streets," he said.

The Clinton campaign is bracing for the possibility of negative attacks from Dole at Wednesday's debate in San Diego.

Commenting on a flurry of negative attacks from Republican leaders on Sunday talk shows, deputy White House chief of staff Harold Ickes said he was not surprised.

"It's a sign of desperation on the part of the Dole campaign. They don't have a program for the future. They know it and the American people know it and so they are trying to scrape up anything they can find," he said.