For decades, ketamine was only manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Technically, it was too complicated to be made by amateur chemists. But in the past five years, that has changed. Chinese drug gangs have cracked the code, figuring out how to manufacture large batches of cheap ketamine. Drug traffickers don't bother to steal ketamine from legal sources anymore. Instead, they're making their own. It's largely a Chinese breakthrough.
The war on drugs is edging towards a truce. Half of Americans want to lift the ban on cannabis. America’s change of heart has led many to wonder if the UN conventions might be reformed to legalise some drugs and treat the use of others as a problem requiring health measures, not criminal or military ones. But as America has drawn back from prohibition, new drug warriors are stepping up to defend it. Russia is foremost among them. “The Russians have taken over the hard-line role that the US used to play,” says Martin Jelsma of the Transnational Institute.