By Max Daly / VICE

The British government’s decision to reclassify GHB from a class C to a class B drug will be ineffective in stopping deaths linked to the substance, according to drug experts. 

A potent sedative known as “G” or “liquid ecstasy”, the drug – a clear liquid often dispensed with a pipette – is used in the chemsex scene and by a growing number of clubbers because of its euphoric high. However, it has also been used by offenders in high-profile rape and murder cases, such as serial killer Stephen Port, who used the drug to sedate four men he later raped and killed, and Reynhard Sinaga, who raped and assaulted 40 men. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the move, which will lead to tougher sentences for possession and supply of the drug, on Tuesday, following a recommendation from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in November. The ACMD said the drug has been linked to thousands of emergency hospital admissions and 219 deaths over the past ten years. In 2019, there were 27 deaths linked to GHB in England and Wales.

Taking the right dose of GHB is notoriously tricky; the difference between getting high and overdosing is a matter of milligrams. The drug – derived from the industrial cleaning solvent GBL, which is used to manufacture spandex and paint stripper – is also addictive, thought to be harder to withdraw from than heroin, and dangerous when mixed with alcohol.