In News by AIVL

There is a new drug circulating around Canberra!  One reporter claims it may be so novel, there’s a high chance it has not even seen the inside of Berlin’s Berghain  Nightclub yet. 

A new compound, described as “Canberra Ketamine” or “CanKet” has been identified by CanTEST; the ‘face to face’, fixed site drug testing facility based in the ACT. The lead chemist at CanTEST, Associate Professor Malcolm Mc Cleod, had this to say: “This is new for Australia. As far as we’re aware, this is the first detection of a new drug by a drug-checking service anywhere in the world.”

What is CanKet?

The short answer is “We don’t know”. Whilst it may seem like a play on words, it is currently being described as a “Ketamine-like substance”. It's been tested for key markers that would show it to be Ket, and these haven’t appeared. So it definitely isn’t Ket. Its effects are vaguely similar to Ket, so it's currently being referred to as a “Ketamine-like substance”.

What does this mean?

The substance is so new, there is no specific information that can be provided to consumers around CanKet. We cannot confidently provide the same harm reduction information to CanKet users that we would to Ket users. This substance hasn’t been tested or studied enough to even begin to understand the similarities or differences it has in relation to Ket. It is possible there is a totally different array of side effects to CanKet that aren’t present in Ket. Once again, we just don’t know.

Where did Can Ket come from? Where has it gone?

This answer may (or may not! ) surprise you. WE DON’T KNOW! But….the smart money is on CanKet being an import from overseas. This is because most of the illicit Ket used in Australia tends to be the result of diversion from licit veterinarians or medical supplies.

It is also uncertain whether this is just a “Canberra Thing”, or if its presence is spread across the nation. That’s the problem we are now faced with working out. There is only one substance testing site in Australia and that is based in Canberra. We just don’t know how prevalent CanKet is across Australia.

How did we find out about Can ket?

An adventurous Psychonaut presented to CanTEST with a substance they thought was Ketamine. When they had taken it, the effects were very different to Ket. They didn’t get the buzz they were expecting, and being inquisitive, they wanted to get the lowdown on what they had just taken.

Since its initial discovery, up to eight more samples have been identified at CanTEST.

What’s been the outcome?

CanTEST has been able to inform local users, police services, and the international community about the existence of this novel substance.

What message would CanTEST like to send to people around CanKET?

If you are in the ACT and have something you think is Ket, we would strongly suggest you come and get it tested before you take it. CanTEST understands that fronting up to health service to get something tested is a big thing. There are people who are Peer Based Workers on site to help you navigate the process and provide you with support.  If you decide to not get your “Ket” tested, or decide to take CanKet, exercise caution when using.

Final Words from CanTEST.

“It is important that we keep the community safe and this discovery shows the value of pill-testing services in doing that. We have been able to find a new substance and provide information to people in a timely matter. Government agencies and drug laws can take a while to catch up.” Professor Mc Cleod said. “Services like this (CanTEST) can only help to reduce the potential harms of drug use, and shows pill testing services can play a valuable role in monitoring the drug market.”

Further reading:

Australia's first fixed pill testing service CanTEST discovers new drug, dubbed 'CanKet' - ABC News

Ketamine cousin 'CanKet' is discovered at Canberra pill testing lab as scientists issue warning | Daily Mail Online

Pill Testers Discover A Type Of Ket That’s Only In Canberra & Is It As Toxic As Living There? (

Pill-testing scientists uncover new drug | The West Australian

Pill testing finds ketamine variant circulating on Australian streets | — Australia’s leading news site

Pill testing centre a 'revelation' with unstudied substances found during second month | Riotact (

AIVL is the national organisation representing people who use/have used illicit drugs and is the peak body for the state and territory peer-based drug user organisations.

CEO, AIVL – email

Want to know more?

Contact the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL).