Justice committee rejects proposal to upgrade ketamine to Class-2 drug
CNATAIPEI, Taiwan -- A drug-review committee under the Ministry of Justice yesterday rejected a proposal to upgrade ketamine to a Class-2 controlled substance for the eighth time in two years as a result of concern over inadequate supporting measures.
December 28, 2012, 12:09 am TWN
The representatives from the Ministry of Education, Department of Health, and Ministry of the Interior did not support the proposal to upgrade the Class-3 contraband and did not allow the imposition of harsher penalties for offenders. Class-2 drug offenders are subject to imprisonment of up to thee years in Taiwan.
The substance, which is commonly used by local teens, is more psychologically addictive than physically addictive, so the justice ministry should implement better sets of supporting measures to address the issue of increasing numbers of young drug abusers, the committee said.
The ministry's move was also partly prompted by an incident that occurred early in December when a 36-year-old driver suspected of using ketamine hit a traffic divider.
When police and rescuers arrived, he attempted to flee, hitting four people in the process. He did not stop until police fired five shots, blowing out one of his tires.
Despite this, he will only face a fine of between NT$10,000 (US$345) and NT$50,000 for the drug-related offenses.
Since the majority of ketamine users are students, the imposition of harsher penalties will affect their future if the drug level is upgraded, Premier Sean Chen stated before the meeting.
Chen noted that he agreed with the view of Cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wun, who proposed charging ketamine manufacturers and dealers with crimes involving a Class-2 controlled substance.
A large-scale anti-drug campaign, including posting mental-health counselors at schools and prisons, will also be launched soon, said Chu Kun-mao, the ministry's prosecution department director.
According to the Drug Prevention and Control Act, ketamine is currently designated as a Class 3 drug. Users of Class-3 drugs are not subject to imprisonment or confinement within rehabilitation institutions.