Ketamine: Legal consequences

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 4:48 pm

On August 12, 1999, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration made ketamine a Schedule III drug. Schedule III drugs are approved for medical use, though their recreational use or abuse “may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” Possession of ketamine in the United States is illegal without a prescription or license to distribute.
Penalties for possession of Schedule I and II drugs (methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, PCP, LSD, and marijuana among others) are far more severe than are the penalties for possession of Schedule III drugs, but they should not be dismissed entirely. Federal sentencing guidelines for possession of ketamine, regardless of the quantity, stipulate prison terms of not more than five years and individual fines of not more than $250,000. Second time offenders will almost certainly earn jail time, with a sentence determined by the judge but not to exceed 10 years. The fine is also doubled, to $500,000.
When ketamine is used by an individual in the commission of another crime, such as rape, the penalties are particularly severe. Rape of a victim who is “physically incapable of declining participation” in the sex act is punishable by fines and imprisonment up to 20 years. Moreover, the rapist does not necessarily have to be the one who drugged the victim; he could be just taking advantage of an existing situation.
A rapist who “renders another person unconscious” or “substantially impairs the ability of that other person to appraise or control conduct” could be sentenced to life in prison.

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