Ketamine Users Now Face Jail Time In Britain

By McCarton Ackerman 02/17/14

Thanks to a number of overdose deaths every year, Ketamine has now been classified in Britain as a Class B drug.

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Hay is for horses...and so is Ketamine.

Using the horse tranquilizer known as Ketamine, or Special K, will now come with some serious legal consequences in the UK. The drug has now been classified as a Class B banned substance by the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and that change has been accepted by Home Secretary Theresa May. Under the new classification, anyone caught possessing Ketamine will face up to five years in jail, while dealers will face up to 14 years behind bars.

Ketamine was first banned as a recreational drug in 2006, but it has continued to infiltrate Britain’s club and festival circuit. Home Office figures show that up to 120,000 people in Britain used Ketamine last year. The Class B status now puts it in the same category as cannabis, amphetamines, and barbiturates.

Anywhere from six to 21 people have died each year since 2009 as a result of Ketamine use, in addition to people as young as 20 being forced to have their bladders removed, the ACMD said in a statement. “Ketamine misuse can cause a range of physical and psychological harms,” said ACMD officials. “There has been an increase in acute ketamine toxicity presentations to hospitals in recent years. In addition, there is now good evidence that frequent and heavy ketamine misuse can cause significant toxicity to the bladder, urinary tract and kidneys.” 

But while club drugs are typically associated with 20-somethings, a clinic in London reported that the majority of club drug users they treated were in their thirties. “These are people who have used club drugs recreationally, often without a problem, for years," said Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, who founded the Club Drug Clinic in London. "Slowly their problems have escalated to the point they have run into significant difficulty. The harms we are now seeing, you wouldn’t normally associate with club drugs."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.