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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
July 13, 1999


On Tuesday, July 13, 1999, DEA published a final rule in the Federal Register that will make Ketamine, commonly known on the street as "Special K," a controlled substance for the first time effective August 12 of this year. This action is being taken in response to documented diversion and growing abuse of this drug, and a recommendation from Health and Human Services (HHS) that Ketamine be placed in Schedule III. The American Animal Hospital Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, individual veterinarians and Fort Dodge Animal Health, a manufacturer of veterinary Ketamine products, are on record supporting DEA's move.

Ketamine has been marketed in the U.S. as a rapidly acting general anesthetic used in both human and veterinary practice since 1971. Chemically, it is related to PCP which is a Schedule II drug. The effects produced with Ketamine use are similar, although less intense and shorter in duration than those of LSD or PCP.

Since 1992 DEA has received more than 500 reports of the sale and/or use of the drug in schools by minors, on college campuses, at night clubs and rave dances. Ketamine use has been associated with incidents of public intoxication and improper operation of motor vehicles while individuals are under the influence of Ketamine. Burglaries of veterinary clinics have been the primary source of Ketamine. The sale of Ketamine as a drug of abuse to undercover police has also been recorded. In addition, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) recorded 207 Ketamine related hospital emergency room episodes during the same period.

"In the seventies and eighties there were very few cases of Ketamine theft and abuse. Since 1992, we have seen an alarming increase in the abuse of so-called "party" drugs such as Ketamine. This is of grave concern to DEA and we are moving to discourage the diversion and abuse of Ketamine by placing it in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and ensuring that proper regulatory, civil and criminal controls apply," according to Special Agent Donnie Marshall, DEA Acting Administrator.

"Alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana are often used in combination with Ketamine according to DAWN reports. When abused, Ketamine produces a dose-related progression of effects from a state of dreamy intoxication to delirium accompanied by the inability to move, feel pain or remember what has occurred while the user was under the drug's influence. The "Special K" trip is similar to that of LSD or PCP but lasts only 30 to 60 minutes as opposed to several hours. And although to date there has been only one documented case nationwide in which Ketamine was used to facilitate rape, it has the same potential as Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol or 'roofies') and Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)," he added.

To date sixteen states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Wisconsin) have placed Ketamine into Schedule III. Missouri and Tennessee have placed the drug in Schedule IV and Massachusetts made it a Class A drug. Effective August 12 federal law will place Ketamine in Schedule III.

For Additional Information, Contact:
Terry Parham, Acting Chief, Public Affairs
(202) 307-7977

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