GHB drug to be reclassified following use in ‘truly sickening crimes’
The drug GHB is to be reclassified following its use in “truly sickening crimes”, the Home Secretary has said.
Priti Patel announced that she will tighten the restrictions around GHB, short for gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, and related substances by moving them from class C to class B.
The reclassification means those found in unlawful possession of the drugs will face tougher penalties and victims will be better protected from their use by criminals, the Home Office said.
The move follows recommendations by the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which previously found evidence of a “concerning increase” in the harm GHB causes.
GHB and related substances have been used to commit some truly sickening crimes, including murder, sexual assault and robbery
An ACMD report released in November last year said GHB and other related substances, known as GHBRS, should become a class B drug – the same as speed or cannabis.
A review of controls on these drugs was commissioned by the Home Secretary in January 2020 amid growing concern over the criminal use of GHB and other similar substances.
Reynhard Sinaga, the UK’s most prolific rapist, was jailed in January last year for drugging and raping more than 40 men, with his trials hearing that he laced his victims’ drinks with drugs such as GBH to render them unconscious.
The recreational club drug, known as liquid ecstasy and typically bought from street dealers or the internet, acts as a sedative, lowering inhibitions and giving users a sense of euphoria, but it can also make them feel sleepy and put them at risk of overdose and death.
Ms Patel said: “GHB and related substances have been used to commit some truly sickening crimes, including murder, sexual assault and robbery.
“I will do everything in my power to protect people from harm, which is why I am tightening restrictions around these dangerous substances.
“These changes will make the drugs harder to access and introduce tougher penalties for possession.”
The Home Office said it will also “bring forward legislation” around two substances that can be converted to GHB on ingestion: gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD).
The department said this will mean that “those wishing to possess them for legitimate industrial purposes will require a licence”.
Necessary legislation will be brought forward “when parliamentary time allows”, the Home Office added.
The maximum penalty a person can face for the possession of a class C drug is up to two years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
For possession of a class B drug, the maximum penalty an offender can receive is five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.