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Drug Crimes Involving Ketamine

ketamine
Powdered Ketamine

Ketamine is primarily used by veterinarians as an analgesic pain reliever, but it’s also a popular street drug. Classification as a Schedule IIIN non-narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act makes it illegal to use, possess, transport, distribute, or sell ketamine. After the passing of Proposition 47, possession of ketamine for personal use is a misdemeanor in California.

Medical Use of Ketamine

Ketamine was developed by Parke-Davis in 1962 for use as an analgesic pain killer during medical procedures.1 It was approved by the FDA in 1970, and used to treat soldiers during the Vietnam War.2

Since that time, most physicians have stopped prescribing ketamine because of its dangerous side effects.  Ketamine is mainly used by veterinarians as an analgesic pain killer. However in recent years scientists have begun researching ketamine for use as an anti-depressant.3 A ketamine injection can relieve severe depression almost immediately, as opposed to taking a traditional anti-depressant like Prozac, which won’t begin to work for as long as a month after starting treatment.  It has been tested for possible use to relieve acute depression when more traditional medications don’t work,4 and for emergencies like suicidal depression, when the patient needs immediate relief.  Doctors are reluctant to prescribe ketamine because of its side effects, but researchers are working to find or synthesize a drug with ketamine’s benefits, and without dangerous side effects such as hallucinations and flashbacks.

Recreational Use  of Ketamine

Ketamine_10ml_bottle
Ketamine in liquid form

Ketamine became a popular club drug during the late 1970s because of its effects, which include hallucinations and dissociation.5 One reason for its popularity as a club drug is that the hallucinations are relatively short lived, lasting up to one hour, compared to other hallucinogens such as LSD and psilocybin, whose effects last much longer. Other effects include

  • inability to feel pain;
  • immobility;
  • detachment;
  • a feeling of lack of control  over your environment; or
  • sedation.

Ketaine’s street names

  • Cat Tranquilizer
  • Cat Valium
  • Jet
  • Jet K
  • K
  • Kit Kat
  • Purple
  • Special K
  • Special La Coke
  • Super Acid
  • Super K
  • Vitamin K.6[vi]

Distribution of Ketamine

drug smuggling ketamine
Smuggling or distributing Ketamine

Ketamine is diverted or stolen from legitimate sources such as veterinary clinics and is also smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.7 The main method of street distribution is through friends and acquaintances at clubs and parties, though recreational use has shifted to private use in recent years.

Ketamine comes in powder or liquid. The powder can be added to cigarettes or joints and smoked, or snorted like cocaine.  The liquid can be injected or ingested orally, usually by   mixing it in drinks. Liquid ketamine can also be evaporated down to crystals by heating, for instance in the microwave or on a hotplate, then crushed into powder form for snorting or smoking.

Ketamine can be used by itself or combined with other drugs such as cocaine and meth, and you may not know that the street drug you’re planning to use also contains ketamine. It can be dangerous when combined with prescribed medications. Because its side effects include amnesia and dissociation, it has been used in drug facilitated sexual assault, such as date rape.

Ketamine and California Law (HS 11350)

Ketamine was classified as a Schedule IIIN non-narcotic under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act in 1999. Schedule III substances have less potential for abuse than Schedule I and II, but may lead to mild physical or psychological addiction.8

California voters recently enacted Proposition 47, which reduces the charge of possession of Ketamine for personal use to a misdemeanor, but doesn’t reduce the charges for transporting, selling, or distributing the drug. We will look at Ketamine related crimes under current California law.

Possession of Ketamine (HS 11350)

Prosecution

In order to convict you of possession of ketamine, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all of the below elements of this crime are facts:

  • You unlawfully possessed ketamine.
  • You knew of its presence
  • You knew it was a controlled substance
  • The ketamine was in a usable amount

Punishment for Ketamine Possession(HS 11350)

Possession for Sale
Possession and sale of Ketamine

Simple possession of ketamine is a misdemeanor in California.  According to California Health & Safety Code section 11350 (a) you could be sentenced to up to one year in county jail for possession of ketamine for personal use.

You could be granted probation instead of doing jail time.  If you are given probation, you could also have to pay a fine of up to $1,000, do community service, or both.

If you have a prior conviction for a serious felony under PC 667, or if you are a registered sex offender under PC 290 (c), the Proposition 47 reduction of criminal charge may not apply to you.9 However, people who have been sentenced to prison for simple possession can petition for resentencing.

Defenses to Possession of Ketamine

Defenses to this crime may include:

  • You had a valid prescription;
  • You were not aware that you possessed ketamine;
  • You didn’t know it was a controlled substance; or
  • Your rights were violated by law enforcement.

Selling, Furnishing, Transporting, Importing, Giving Away or Administering Ketamine (HS 11352)

Prosecution

selling ketmine
Selling Ketamine

In order to convict you of this crime, the prosecution must prove all of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You sold, furnished, transported, imported into California, gave away or administered ketamine.
  • You knew of its presence.
  • You knew it was a controlled substance.
  • The substance was ketamine.
  • The substance was in a usable amount.

Selling is defined as exchanging the substance for money, services, or anything of value.

Administer means to “apply it to the other person’s body”10 by injection or any other means, for instance to give somebody a drink with ketamine in it, or a cigarette or joint laced with ketamine, or lay out a line for them to snort.

Transport means to move from one location to another, even a short distance. It does not necessarily mean that you intend to sell or give away the ketamine, you simply moved it. You can be convicted even if you did not have personal possession of the ketamine. If you knew of its presence and had control of the drug, you could be found guilty of transporting it. Transporting also includes by walking or riding a bicycle.

Punishment (HS 11352)

If you are convicted of selling, furnishing, transporting, importing, administering or giving away ketamine, you could be sentenced to three, four or five years in state prison.

Defenses of HS 11352

Defenses to this crime may include:

  • You did not sell, transport, give away or administer the ketamine
  • You had no control over the substance
  • You did not know of its presence
  • You did not know it was a controlled substance
  • Entrapment
  • Violation of your rights by law enforcement

Offering to Sell, Furnish, Transport, Import, Give Away, or Administer Ketamine (HS 11352)

Prosecution

In order to convict you of this crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all of the below elements of this crime are facts.

  • You offered to do any of the above (sell, furnish, give away, administer, etc.)
  • When you made the offer you intended to perform the action you offered to do.
  • The substance was ketamine or a substantially similar substance with the same effect or chemical composition.

Punishment

If you are convicted of offering to sell, furnish, transport, import, give away, or administer ketamine you could receive three, four, or five years in state prison.

Defenses to HS 11370

Defenses to this crime include:

  • You did not offer to sell, furnish, give away, transport, import, or administer ketamine;
  • You had no intention of performing the action even if you offered to do it;
  • You don’t have access to ketamine;
  • Entrapment; or
  • Violation of your rights by law enforcement.

Ketamine Crimes Involving a Minor

Because ketamine is a drug that has been popular with young people, and mostly distributed at nightclubs, raves, and parties, you could easily be accused of a ketamine crime involving a minor. Minors have been known to use fake IDs for admission to nightclubs, and   individuals who throw private parties usually don’t check ID’s. Punishment for drug crimes involving minors is harsh, and you should be aware of potential consequences.

Selling, Furnishing, Administering, or Giving Ketamine to a Minor (HS 11353, 11380 (a))

Arrested_4
Arrested for selling to a minor?

In order to convict you of this crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all of the following elements:

  • You unlawfully sold, furnished, administered, or gave away ketamine to a minor;
  • You knew of the presence of ketamine;
  • You knew the ketamine was a controlled substance;
  • You were 18 or older at the time;
  • The person you gave it to was under 18 at the time;
  • The substance was ketamine; and
  • The substance was a usable amount.

Punishment

If you are convicted of this crime you could be sentenced to three, six, or nine years in state prison.

Defenses to Selling Ketamine to a Minor

Defenses to this crime may include:

  • You did not sell or furnish ketamine to the minor;
  • You did not know of the presence of ketamine (in the soda pop, etc.);
  • You did not know the ketamine was a controlled substance; or
  • Violation of your rights by law enforcement.

Offering to Sell, Furnish, Administer, or Give Ketamine to a Minor (HS 11353, 11380 (a))

In order to convict you of this crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You offered to sell, give away, furnish, or administer ketamine to a person who was a minor;
  • When you made the offer, you intended to perform the action you offered to do;
  • The substance was ketamine;
  • At the time of the offer, you were over 18 years old; and
  • At the time, the person you made the offer to was under 18.

Punishment

If you are convicted of this crime, you could be sentenced to three, six, or nine years in state prison.

Defenses to Offering Ketamine to a Minor

Defenses to this crime include:

  • You did not offer to sell, give away, furnish, or administer ketamine to the minor;
  • You did not intend to perform the action you offered to do;
  • You don’t even have access to ketamine;
  • False Accusation; or
  • Violation of your rights by law enforcement.

 The above crimes involving ketamine are by no means all-inclusive. There are other crimes, such as inducing a minor to violate controlled substance laws, or using ketamine for drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), which can result in severe punishment.

FAQs

smoke-484090_640
Smoking someone else’s Ketamine

What if I smoked somebody else’s cigarette and didn’t know it was laced with ketamine?

If you didn’t know the cigarette contained ketamine, then you cannot be found guilty of a ketamine crime. In order to be found guilty of this crime, you need to know that the action you are taking is illegal. The legal term for this is Mens Rea, a Latin phrase which means “guilty mind”. It isn’t a crime to ask somebody for a cigarette. A skilled drug crimes defense attorney should be able to review the facts of your case, subpoena any witnesses, and prove that you were not aware that you possessed, smoked, or knowingly shared a cigarette that contained ketamine.

What if I have a prior conviction, but it was twenty years ago?

If you’ve been accused of possession of ketamine and you have a prior serious conviction, a skilled attorney may be able to persuade the court that your years of being law abiding are a mitigating factor. If the court is convinced that you are not likely to commit more crimes or pose a danger to the community, your years of being a law abiding citizen could be taken into account at sentencing.

What if I didn’t know the person I gave ketamine to was a minor?

Even if you didn’t know the person was under 18 years old, if you gave ketamine to a minor you could be found guilty of violating Health and Safety Code11353. If you’ve been accused of giving or furnishing ketamine to a minor it is imperative that you talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away so he or she can help you develop a strong defense strategy.

Call Wallin & Klarich If You Have Been Accused of a Crime Involving Ketamine

WK
Drug crimes attorneys

If you or a loved one has been accused of a ketamine related crime, you need to talk to a Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately. Though Prop 47 makes possession of Ketamine a misdemeanor, any drug conviction, even a misdemeanor conviction, could have devastating consequences on your life, and continue to affect you for years to come. Wallin & Klarich attorneys have over 30 years of experience in successfully defending clients accused of drug crimes. We will meet with you to review the facts, and begin to aggressively defend you and help you obtain the best possible outcome for your case.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich drug crime defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. http://www.thegooddrugsguide.com/ketamine/index.htm

2. http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/ketamine.asp

3. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/01/31/146096540/i-wanted-to-live-new-depression-drugs-offer-hope-for-toughest-cases?singlePage=true

4. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802165410.htm

5. http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Ketamine.pdf

6. http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Ketamine.pdf

7. http://www.streetdrugs.org/html%20files/Ketamine.html

8. http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.html

9. http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/en/propositions/47/

10. http://www.courts.ca.gov/partners/documents/calcrim_juryins.pdf

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