- 22 Nov 22
The reclassification would result in the same penalties that are in place for using or possessing heroin, cocaine, LSD, MDMA (Ecstacy/Molly), crystal meth, and crack cocaine.
A new petition in the UK calls for GHB and GBL, also known as liquid ecstasy, to be reclassified as 'Class A' drugs. The substances are popular with clubbers and those who attend raves, including teens and young adults.
"These drugs are associated with more deaths than ecstasy, GHB & GBL have been used in horrific crimes such as sexual assessment, rape and burglary, and these drug are addictive," the petition states.
GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), also known as liquid ecstasy, liquid X, "G", or "date rape" drug, is a central nervous system depressant. It is usually available as a clear liquid, and used to treat sleep disorders. GHB can have dangerous effects when misused. As a club drug, it is frequently placed in alcoholic beverages, and used to spike drinks.
GBL (gamma-butyrolactone), as well as 1,4-butanediol (1.4-BD), are sold as substitutes for GHB, and naturally convert to GHB after ingestion.
According to the NHS, these drugs can produce a high with small doses, and cause sedation with only slightly higher doses. For instance, in 2020, Reynhard Sinaga, an Indonesian man who was convicted of 136 rapes by a court in Manchester allegedly used GHB to paralyse his victims. He was jailed for at least 30 years.
In smaller doses, people report that GHB makes them feel euphoric, with a loss of inhibitions, increased confidence, and a higher sex drive, the NHS states.
The drug is physically addictive and dependence can develop very quickly or from regular use over a period of time.
In April 2022, the status of GHBRS - referring to the three substances GHB, GBL and 1.4-BD - was changed in the UK from 'Class C' to 'Class B', which includes cannabis, speed, ketamine, mephedrone and some amphetamines.
A reclassification to 'Class A' would mean that anyone caught in possession of, using or distributing the drugs would risk the same penalities that are in place for heroin, cocaine, LSD, MDMA (Ecstacy/Molly), crystal meth, and crack cocaine.
The newly launched petition states that "many young people take these drugs [GHB and GBL] as they are easier to obtain than higher class drugs. This has led to too many deaths and hospitalisations, and long-term harm to users."
At the time of writing, the petition has been signed by 1,280 people. If a UK Government and Parliament petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the government will have to respond to the petition, while at 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate within Parliament.
In Ireland, GHB/GBL are "controlled drugs" under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 (as amended), which aims to "ensure the availability of controlled drugs for medical and scientific purposes and to prevent the non-medical use of those drugs."