Ketamine, an animal anaesthetic with hallucinogenic properties, joins Britain’s list of controlled substances from Sunday after gaining popularity as a recreational drug.
Users of the drug, used as a battlefield anaesthetic during the Vietnam war, have reported experiencing hallucinations as well as suffering some memory loss for up to three days.
Ketamine is currently legal but will become a Class C drug, the lowest classification which also includes cannabis and anabolic steroids.
Possession of Class C drugs is punishable with up to two years in jail, while supplying them can result in a 14 year sentence.
Charity Drugscope said earlier this year that the drug, first popular in gay nightclubs, had spread to a wider group of partygoers.
Dealers were selling Ketamine for between $25 and $86 a gram, the charity said.
Home Office minister Paul Goggins announced the ban Dec. 28.
“Although Ketamine use is relatively low in the U.K., there has been an increase use by clubbers in recent years,” he said. “Ketamine presents serious health risks and must be subject to strict controls to provide a considerable deterrent to those seeking to import and supply the drug.”
The move to Class C status had been recommended by the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.