Samantha Reid (January 4, 1984 – January 17, 1999) grew up in the Detroit, Michigan Metropolitan Area. She came to national attention after her death at the age of 15.
In the company of three young men at another man's apartment, Samantha and her friends, Melanie and Jessica, were offered drinks. Samantha and Melanie asked for Mountain Dew - Jessica asked for a Screwdriver (orange juice and vodka). The young men brought them the beverages, to which they had added either gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) or gamma-butyrolactone (GBL). Samantha complained that the drink tasted bad but drank it anyway. Melanie stated that her face had become numb soon after, and then both of the girls passed out. The boys at first did not think anything was wrong, since both GHB and alcohol can cause those drinking them to pass out if they drink too much of it and this is not usually a medical emergency. However, Jessica noticed later that they were having difficulty breathing. The boys eventually drove her to the hospital, but Samantha stopped breathing on the way there. Both of the young women were put on life-support, but Samantha died roughly eighteen hours later.
Their three friends were found guilty of poisoning and involuntary manslaughter, while the older man who owned the apartment was found guilty of accessory to manslaughter and possession of GHB. They were sentenced to 5–15 years in prison.
Both GBL and GHB have effects very similar to those of alcohol, but are much more potent. GHB is generally diluted with water and stored in small bottles, and the dose is usually measured in cap fulls. Since the FDA had banned GHB from sale, most GHB was and is created by clandestine chemists, and bottles of GHB can be diluted to widely varying amounts. There are many cases of overdoses caused by thinking a bottle had a lower concentration than it actually did, many of which simply lead to the person passing out and waking up later, often wondering why they are in the hospital. GBL is a prodrug of GHB, but is significantly more potent than its more common derivative. Pure GHB would have a recreational dose of around 1/3 of a teaspoon. For these reasons, it would be fairly easy to accidentally give someone too strong of a dose.
Reid's death inspired the legislation titled the Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Drug Prohibition Act of 2000. This law categorized GHB as a Schedule I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substance Act. However, neither girl was date raped, and GHB is used in less than 1 in 50 cases of drug-facilitated rapes. Both GHB and GBL have strong and unpleasant tastes. GHB is very salty, and GBL has a chemical, rubber-like flavor. The senators who authored the bill have been criticized for using the media attention of Samantha Reid's death to their advantage by framing it as a women's issue.