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What you need to understand about the 'club drug' ketamine

As much as the décor, the music and the fashions favored by people may change, there is one thing about dance clubs, bars and nighttime hotspots that will never change: the presence of illegal narcotics. Indeed, the reality is that while most responsible owners do everything in their power to run clean establishments, customers and even staff will often find ways to bring drugs onto the premises for use or sale.

Of course, the types of drugs found at these destinations can also vary according to what happens to be in demand at the time. For instance, Ecstasy or MDMA was a very popular "club drug" in the 90s and is still something of a mainstay. Now, however, more club patrons are experimenting with a drug known as ketamine.

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is a short-acting anesthetic administered to both humans and animals via injection in controlled medical settings. It's known as a dissociative anesthetic given that it can leave patients feeling relatively separated from their discomfort and surroundings.

Ketamine often enters the black market after being stolen or diverted from places like hospitals, medical clinics or vet clinics.

Why is ketamine so likely to be abused?

The aforementioned dissociative property of ketamine, which can produce everything from pain relief and immobility to amnesia and sedation, are one reason why ketamine is so likely to be abused. Another is its ability to produce hallucinations, meaning altered perceptions of reality.

The fact that these effects can last 30 to 60 minutes versus several hours has also served to increase its popularity.

How is ketamine ingested?   

Ketamine is typically sold as either a powder or liquid, with the former being snorted or smoked, and the latter being added to drinks.

Is it dangerous?

As with any illegal substance, there are major dangers associated with ketamine use, including overdoses, which can lower respiration to dangerously low or possibly fatal levels.

How does the law classify ketamine?  

Ketamine has been classified as a Schedule III non-narcotic substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act since 1999. This means it is recognized as having an accepted medical use, but also some potential for abuse and, by extension, a potential risk of low to moderate physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

It is similarly classified as such under Illinois law, which dictates that possession of 30 or more grams of ketamine is a Class X felony punishable by anywhere from six to 30 years in prison, while possession of 10 grams or more, but less than 30, is a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years in prison.

Here's hoping the foregoing information has proven helpful …

If you are facing felony drug charges at the state or federal level, it's imperative to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible. The stakes are simply too high. 

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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