Circular: Control of methoxetamine under a Temporary Class Drug Order

Home Office circular 008/2012 A Change to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: Control of methoxetamine under a Temporary Class Drug Order Broad…



Home Office circular 008/2012

A Change to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: Control of methoxetamine under a Temporary Class Drug Order

  • Broad subject: Crime and disorder
  • Issue date: Fri Mar 30 14:43:47 BST 2012
  • From:
    Crime and Policing Group (CPG) - Drugs and Alcohol Unit
  • Linked circulars:
    No linked circulars
  • Copies sent to:
    Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, Association of Magisterial Officers, The Central Council of Magistrates’ Courts, The Justices’ Clerks’ Society, The Law Society, The Magistrates’ Association, Association of Chief Police Officers (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), Ministry of Justice, Judicial Studies Board

  • Sub category: Drug offences
  • Implementation date: Fri Mar 30 14:43:47 BST 2012
  • For more info contact:

Desmond Niimoi 020 7035 3533


  • Addressed to:
    Chief Officers of Police (England and Wales), Chief Officer of Police (Northern Ireland), Chief Officers of Police (Scotland), Circuit Administrators, Court Administrators, The Chief Clerk of the Crown Court, Clerks of Magistrates’ Courts Committees, Clerks to the Justices, Clerks to the Police Authorities, The Chief Crown Prosecutor, Chief Probation Officers

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Temporary Class Drug) Order 2012 (S.I. 2012/980)


This Circular draws attention to the contents of the above Statutory Instrument (SI), S.I. 2012/980, which comes into force at 00:01 on Thursday 5 April 2012.

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Temporary Class Drug) Order 2012 subjects 2-(ethylamino)-2-(3-methoxyphenyl)cyclohexanone (commonly known as methoxetamine), and its simple derivatives, to a temporary class drug order under the  Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Methoxetamine (and its simple derivatives) have no recognised medicinal use, therefore the Order also applies the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 to these drugs as if they were controlled drugs to which Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 and the Misuse of Drugs (Safe Custody) Regulations 1973 applied. This means that it will be unlawful to supply, possess with intent to supply, produce, and import or export methoxetamine except under licence issued by the Home Office.

A temporary class drug order expires at the end of twelve months unless, if earlier, the substance is brought under the permanent control of the 1971 Act by virtue of an Order in Council under section 2(2) of the 1971 Act, or if the temporary class drug order is varied or revoked.

The codes for recording offences by the police and the courts for statistical purposes within the Home Office Recorded Crime and Ministry of Justice Court Appearance Database (CAD) - which includes cautions - for methoxetamine (and its simple derivatives), are set out in Annex A.

The SI together with explanatory memoranda can found at They are also published by The Stationery Office. Telephone orders/General enquiries 0870 600 5522 or online at  A copy of this circular can be found at:


Summary Overview

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (“the 1971 Act”) controls drugs that are “dangerous or otherwise harmful” primarily under a 3-tier system of classification (A, B and C) which provides a framework within which criminal penalties are set with reference to the harm a drug has or is capable of having when misused and the type of illegal activity undertaken in regard to that drug.

Section 2A and 2B of the 1971 Act provides that the Secretary of State may make an order (a “temporary class drug order”) if two conditions are met. The first condition is that the substance is not a Class A, B or C drug. The second condition is that the Secretary of State has either consulted with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (“the ACMD”) and has determined that the temporary class drug order should be made, or otherwise has received a recommendation to that effect from the ACMD. After carrying out such consultation the Secretary of State can only proceed to make the order if it appears that the drug is one that is being, or is likely to be, misused, and that misuse is having, or is capable of having, harmful effects. A corresponding requirement applies before the ACMD may make a recommendation.  Under section 7A of the 1971 Act, the Secretary of State may also make provision (which may take the form of applying any provision made under sections 7(1), 10 or 22 of the 1971 Act) so as to allow for the lawful production and supply of a temporary class drug and provision for preventing misuse including safe custody.

A framework of criminal penalties similar to those under the 3-tier classification, but excluding the offence of simple possession, applies to drugs that are subject to temporary control. On indictment, the maximum penalties for offences relating to temporary class drug are - on indictment for supply, production or importation/exportation fourteen years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine; on summary conviction, for supply, production or importation/exportation, six months’ imprisonment and/or a prescribed fine (including, for the latter, one determined by the value of the drugs if greater than the specified amount). 

Methoxetamine is an analogue of the Class C drug ketamine and a ‘dissociative anaesthetic’. The AMD’s assessment is that methoxetamine is a harmful and dangerous drug. The pattern of harmful effects reported following acute use of methoxetamine is similar to that seen with acute ketamine toxicity- including hallucinations, catatonia and dissociative effects. Methoxetamine appears to also present significant additional toxicity, the effects of which include agitation, cardiovascular effects including tachycardia (a fast heart rate), hypertension (high blood pressure) and cerebellar features such as ataxia (unsteadiness on the feet). The ACMD highlights that cerebellar features are rarely seen with other drugs and are not seen with acute ketamine toxicity.

The ACMD advises that the harms associated with methoxetamine are significant enough to warrant to temporary control, and also that methoxetamine has no legitimate industrial or medicinal use, though there may be some limited use for research purposes. As the Order also applies the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 as if methoxetamine was a controlled drug to which Schedule 1 of the 2001 Regulations applied, the effect is that the use of methoxetamine for research can only take place under a Home Office licence.


This document contains the annexes for Home Office circular 008/2012.