Pubdate: Sat, 18 Jun 2005
Source: Businessworld (Philippines)
Copyright: 2005 BusinessWorld
Author: Paul C.H. How
Bookmark: (Club Drugs)


Ketamine, an animal tranquilizer, has been declared by the Dangerous
Drugs Board as a dangerous drug, making mere possession of the drug
without a permit a heinous crime, and could result in a life sentence
for the offender.

This was announced yesterday by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
(PDEA) Director-General Anselmo S. Avenido in an anti-drug summit held
in Makati. The PDEA provides supervision and technical support for
various anti-drug groups in the country.

Mr. Avenido said the ketamine chemical in liquid form, known as
ketamine hydrochloride, comes from India. "From our investigations, we
found out the ketamine liquid is imported and converted to ketamine
powder here [in the Philippines]. It is later exported to countries
where ketamine use is popular, such as Hong Kong, Singapore and
Taiwan," he explained.

The declaration of ketamine as a dangerous drug is important,
according to Mr. Avenido, for preventive reasons. "We've talked to
anti-drug agencies abroad, and they say that our [ketamine] situation
here in the Philippines is the same as it was in their countries three
years ago. There, it's now the number one drug of choice. It's just
starting to become popular here."

He said ketamine was not one of the most used drugs yet, but it is an
"emerging problem." The most commonly abused drugs in the country are
metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, marijuana and ecstasy. "We are
watching it [the rise in ketamine abuse] because we do not want what
happened in other countries to happen to us," he said.

On December 23, 2003, a Pasay City warehouse was raided. Some 7,000
vials of ketamine hydrochloride and 1 kg. of ketamine powder were
found and seized. Since then, 32,300 vials of ketamine hydrochloride
and 38.83 kg. of ketamine powder have been seized by police from
illegal drug manufacturers. 
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