Ketamine by any other name smells as odious

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am
 

Drug dealers are showing their delicate side by giving the drug ketamine a sweeter-sounding nickname.

It is usually called 'K chai', but in Cantonese the 'K' is pronounced the same as the word for faeces.

'Traffickers have recently given it a new name, 'perfume', to make it attractive,' a police officer said. 'We think the new name is also used in an attempt to avoid being noticed by law enforcers.'

Figures from the Central Registry of Drug Abuse showed the number of known new ketamine abusers under 21 increased to 1,300 in the first half of last year, compared with 873 for all of 2006. Of every 10 new young drug abusers registered, eight took ketamine.

As the popularity of the party drug remains high among young users, police are talking with the Department of Justice to see whether penalties for trafficking ketamine can be increased.

Although ketamine is in the class of dangerous drugs, for which the maximum trafficking penalty is life imprisonment, judges have been using sentence guidelines similar to those for trafficking in Ecstasy - eight years in jail for trafficking 800 grams or more, and four to eight years for trafficking 400 to 800 grams.

A trafficker caught with 967 grams of ketamine was recently jailed for 51/2 years.

Police arrested 25 people and seized HK$26,000 worth of illegal drugs in raids on three discos in Tsim Sha Tsui and Yau Ma Tei early on Thursday.

On Friday, police arrested two men and a woman, who they said belong to a triad society, at Nam Cheong Estate, Sham Shui Po, and seized drugs worth HK$30,000. The seized drugs included ketamine, cocaine and the designer drug Ice.

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