GHB – a drug that was weaponised by the UK’s most prolific rapist and the serial killer Stephen Port – should be reclassified, recommends The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
A report by the ACMD says that GHB should become a Class B drug – the same as speed or cannabis – ‘on the grounds that there is evidence of a concerning increase in the ill-health and social harms among those who use the drug’ as well as the number of deaths where it has been implicated, since its last report in 2003.
Responding to the report, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “We wholeheartedly support tightening controls on these highly dangerous drugs and we will be looking at the recommendations in this report as a priority.”
GHB is thought to be linked to thousands of hospital admissions each year, despite actual figures being kept by few health authorities.
From 2008 to 2018, figures from the Office of National Statistics say GHB was mentioned on the death certificate of 219 people – with or without other drugs or alcohol – who had an underlying cause of death by drug poisoning, and in 92 cases it was the sole drug mentioned on the death certificate.
Experts say the deaths data is almost certainly an underestimate, since GHB is not routinely tested for after death and, in any case, it exits the body within 24 hours.
What is GHB?
GHB, which was designated a Class C drug in 2003, usually comes as a colourless, oily liquid, or, more rarely, a powder that is dissolved in water.
It is closely related to GBL, another colourless liquid that is sold as an industrial cleaner and converts to GHB in the body. GBL is only classed as a controlled narcotic when knowingly intended for human consumption.
GHB can lead to feelings of euphoria in very small doses, but in only slightly larger amounts can cause unconsciousness and death.
Currently, in the UK, there are three categories of drugs – Class A, Class B and Class C.
Heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD are in class A, and speed, cannabis, ketamine, mephedrone and some amphetamines are in Class B. Currently, GHB is in class C, along with anabolic steroids and some tranquilisers.
AlphaBiolabs conducts drug testing on behalf of the legal profession, local authorities, workplaces and the public.
Our standard hair drugs panel tests for all the common drugs of abuse, we can also arrange hair drug testing for GHB.