The Global Initiative For Drug Policy Reform



Ketamine is produced in legal factories, mostly in China, as a medical and veterinary anaesthetic. Illicit Ketamine is then diverted from these sources , or stolen from legitimate buyers, and sold on to the illegal market.


Because of its wide range of legitimate usage, Ketamine is not internationally controlled, although many countries have enacted controls on it. It is a Class C drug in the UK.

Medical Usage

Ketamine is a widely-used anaesthetic, useful in treating patients for whom morphine is not appropriate, such as children and the elderly. For this reason it is on the World Health Organisation’s “Essential Drugs List” and is considered a necessary medicine for all clinics to have. Studies also indicate that it has some potential usage as an anti-depressant.

Recreational Usage

Ketamine is a dissociative drug, meaning it reduces or block signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain creating hallucinogenic effects and dream-like states or trances. Ketamine is extremely ‘spacey’, and in high doses can produce a strong out of body experience, known colloquially as a “K-Hole.” Some users report loss of subjective experience, depersonalization and forgetting they have taken the drug. Low doses create a mild anaesthetic like effect, somewhat similar to low doses of alcohol.



Regular, long term Ketamine use can have a number of serious negative side effects. It can lead to serious cognitive impairment in memory and special awareness. It can also cause major urinary problems, and some users have had to have their bladders removed. It can be very psychologically addictive, although infrequent users are not at particular risk of these problems.