Rape drug GHB is outlawed

The drug GHB, which has been frequently linked to drug-assisted rape cases, is set to be outlawed from midnight tonight – and convicted dealers could face up to five years in prison.

Gammahydroxybutrate (GHB), or liquid ecstasy as it is more commonly known, is popular amongst clubbers and is taken by mixing it with a drink. However, it can induce unconsciousness and it has been used to incapacitate victims before they are raped.

GHB was originally developed as an anaesthetic and it is produced as a white powder which is dissolved into water. In small doses it acts as an 'upper', but in larger doses the anaesthetic effect takes hold and can lead to respiratory problems - and it can be potentially lethal.

Along with seven other drugs, GHB will become controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, after the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recognised that it was being widely misused and has harmful effects.

Drugs Minister, Caroline Flint, said: "GHB has been used in numerous drug-assisted rapes and sexual assaults. By introducing jail terms for its possession and increasing them for supply we hope to help prevent the most despicable of crimes.

"It's very important that we get the message across to club goers that this is a dangerous drug. People can pass out after just a few drops in an alcoholic drink, and an overdose could result in a coma.

"The strength of the liquid varies, so a user is often unaware how much they are taking. It's known as liquid ecstasy because it has similar effects to the Class A version - and also similar dangers."

At its meeting on November 8 2001, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended that GHB should be controlled as a Class C. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act the current maximum penalty for possession with intent to supply Class C drugs is five years in prison. The maximum penalty for possession of Class C drugs is two years in prison.


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