Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023

Canberra ketamine: new recreational drug discovered at Australian pill-testing service

Canberra ketamine: new recreational drug discovered at Australian pill-testing service


Canberra ketamine: new recreational drug discovered at Australian pill-testing service

A new recreational drug dubbed CanKet, similar to ketamine but with unknown side effects, has been found by scientists at Australia's first fixed pill-testing site.

CanTEST, a face-to-face drug-checking service, was launched in Canberra in August. Since then, almost 200 people have brought their recreational drugs in for analysis and advice based on the results. Some people choose to discard their drugs if the service finds they are laced with harmful or unexpected substances.

The chemistry lead at CanTEST, Associate Prof Malcolm McCleod, said someone brought in a small plastic bag of crystals and powder, and while they thought the drug was ketamine, the side effects were different.

Ketamine is a powerful anaesthetic typically snorted or injected to provide a high, with common side effects including nausea, vomiting, hallucination, high blood pressure, and confusion.

"We have a couple of techniques on site to test for ketamine and we can be really sure of the results. It was clear this wasn't ketamine, but rather a ketamine-like substance," McLeod, from the Australian National University, said.

"That's why we have called it 'CanKet,' as in Canberra ketamine."

"This is new for Australia. As far as we're aware, this is the first detection of a new drug by a drug-checking service anywhere in the world."

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