Ketamine’s Rise in Popularity- Is it Legal in Florida?

July 15, 2022 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges

Ketamine has been rising in popularity recently after the FDA approved a form of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. Since then, ketamine’s popularity has risen to treat severe mental illnesses. Ketamine infusion centers have popped up across the country, including here in Florida. This blog will explain how ketamine is used by medical professionals and the legality of ketamine.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a Schedule III non-narcotic drug. It is a dissociative anesthetic that has hallucinogenic effects. Like many drugs, there are ways to use the drug legally or illegally. Until recently the drug was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a general anesthetic. Ketamine itself has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression. A drug made from ketamine (Esketamine) has been approved by the FDA to use as a depression treatment.

Esketamine is approved for patients with major depression who have tried at least two different antidepressant treatments with no response. Esketamine is a nasal spray that the patient can use at the clinic and the patient is not allowed to take the spray home because of the effects of the drug. Esketamine can cause sedation and dissociation effects. Dissociation means that the patient will have difficulty thinking clearly and being able to make judgments.

Ketamine infusions do not have FDA approval, which means that it is an off-label use of ketamine. Off-label does not mean that it is illegal for doctors to prescribe and use Ketamine in this way. The FDA states that healthcare providers may use drugs for off-label use when they judge the off-label use to be medically appropriate for the patient.  Ketamine infusion centers have popped up all over Florida.  Studies show that ketamine infusions give patients rapid results. Patients experience mood changes as early as 4 hours after receiving their infusion. However, the effects of ketamine wear off fast throughout the week following the infusion.

One of the major concerns with ketamine treatment is the addictive nature of ketamine. Patients must be observed so that they are not able to abuse the drug. The addictive nature of the drug is one of the reasons why patients have to be administered the drug at a medical facility. Even patients on Esketamine, the approved form of Ketamine, cannot take the nasal spray home due to the possibility of misusing the drug.

The full list of side effects of ketamine is as follows:

  • Instability of heart and blood vessel function: This can affect the patient’s blood pressure and also cause abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Respiratory depression
  • Emergence reactions
  • Increase in intracranial pressure
  • Liver injury
  • Cognitive, or thinking deficits

Ketamine is not recommended for people who suffer from high blood pressure because a ketamine treatment could cause an aneurysm, uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart attack, or aortic tear.

Ketamine as a Street Drug

Ketamine is not a legal recreational drug. The only legal form of ketamine is when it is administered at a medical facility by professionals. Not only are these procedures in place so that the addictive drug doesn’t go home, but these procedures exist so that the doctors can monitor the patient’s reactions to the drug. The immediate possible side effects of ketamine include nausea, dizziness, fast heart rate, and high blood pressure. Patients on ketamine also experience dissociation, where they are not able to make sound decisions.

Ketamine is described as a “club drug” that has become popular at dance clubs and raves. Common street names of the drug are: Cat Tranquilizer, Cat valium, Jet K, Purple Special K, Special La Coke, Super Acid, Super K, and Vitamin K.

At the federal level, the DEA listed ketamine as a Schedule III controlled substance. Schedule III drugs are those drugs that have a moderate to low abuse potential and have accepted medical use.

Ketamine in Florida – Possible Charges for Illegal Possession

Under Florida law, ketamine is a schedule III drug. If someone obtains ketamine without a valid prescription then they are in violation of the law. It is a third-degree felony to purchase ketamine without a prescription, it is also a third-degree felony to possess ketamine without a prescription, and it’s a third-degree felony to sell ketamine. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years and up to a fine of $5,000.

Like with all other controlled substances, the prescription defense is a defense that the accused can use to fight the charges. The prescription defense means that the accused has a lawful reason to be in possession of the controlled substance because their doctor prescribed the medication to them. However, due to the immediate side effects of ketamine, monitoring by medical staff is needed. For all approved ketamine treatments, the medical facility stores the drug and administers the drug on-site; the patient does not leave the building with the drug like a patient on Adderall would. These facts make it unlikely that someone would have a valid prescription for ketamine and be permitted to possess ketamine, at least until the medical community finds new ways to utilize ketamine safely for treatment.

Learn more about Florida drug charges and the prescription defense here.

Finding A Drug Lawyer in Tallahassee

If you have been charged with illegal possession of ketamine, contact the attorneys at Pumphrey Law to discuss the specific facts of your case. An experienced drug defense attorney in Tallahassee can find applicable defenses to your charge or any other mitigating circumstances.

Our team of attorneys has represented those accused of illegal possession of drugs in Florida and will aggressively fight your criminal charge. Contact Pumphrey Law today at (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation about your alleged prescription drug possession offense.

Written by Melissa MacNicol

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