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California ABC Now Requires Bars & Nightclubs to Offer Drug Testing

Bars and Nightclubs: your deadline for drug testing compliance is approaching fast! Starting July 1, 2024, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is requiring bars and nightclubs with Type 48 licenses to have drug testing devices available to patrons. Type 48 licenses are bars and nightclubs that do not sell food and do not allow minors on the premises.

Here are the new rules you need to know:

Offer Drug Testing Kits to Patrons for Low or No Cost

Licensees can sell the kits to patrons OR make them available for free. If you choose to sell them, the price cannot exceed a reasonable amount based on the wholesale cost. That means licensees should set a price that covers the cost of the program only—no big mark-ups.

Maintain Inventory of Drug Testing Devices for All Three Required Substances

Drug testing devices can include test strips, stickers, straws, or any other devices that can detect the presence of controlled substances in drinks. They need to be able to test for (1) flunitrazepam, (2) ketamine, and (3) gamma hydroxybutyric acid, which is also known by other names, including GHB, gamma hydroxybutyrate, 4-hydroxybutyrate, 4-hydroxybutanoic acid, sodium oxybate, and sodium oxybutyrate. Each kit does not need to be able to test for all three controlled substances, but you must maintain a selection of testing devices that covers the list.

ABC requires licensees to monitor their testing kit inventories to ensure kits have not expired or exceeded their recommended period of use. Notably, however, ABC will not hold licensees liable for defective or inaccurate test results. (See Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §25624.)


ABC does not sell or recommend any particular testing device. According to ABC’s FAQ, however, drug testing devices can be bought in bulk for less than $1.00 per device. The most common test strips test for GHB and ketamine.

Display Required Signage

Bars and nightclubs must display signage informing patrons drug testing kits are available in a prominent and conspicuous location. Signs must state:

Don’t get roofied! Drink spiking drug test kits available here. Ask a staff member for details.

Licensees can download and print a sample sign from ABC’s website.

Watch Out for ABC Enforcement Agents!

ABC agents will enforce the new law. Violations are not criminal, but ABC will file administrative actions against licensed businesses it believes are not complying. Most penalties will involve fines or license suspensions.

These cases begin with undercover ABC agents or police officers visiting your premises and interacting with your staff and patrons, looking for any sign of noncompliance. The officers do not wear uniforms and typically go undetected by bar and club staff. Make sure your employees know ABC will be testing their compliance! Agents visit at times they know you will be most busy—especially weekends, evenings, and holidays.

This informational piece, which may be considered advertising under the ethical rules of certain jurisdictions, is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute the rendering of legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship. You can unsubscribe from future messages by replying “unsubscribe” to this message.

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