Ketamine users could face significantly higher jail sentences, after government advisers suggested the drug be upgraded to Class B from Class C.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was asked to look into the legal status of the drug by home secretary Theresa May after Home Office figures showed it was being taken by about 120,000 people between the age of 16 and 59 in England and Wales in the past year.
May is highly likely to accept the recommendation, which would trigger jail sentences of five years, rather than two, and up to 14 years in jail and unlimited fined for those supplying it.
The drug – which is also used as an anaethetic - has been used in the club scene for several decades.
Research suggests a small minority of users take the drug on a daily basis, risking damage to the bladder.
In some very extreme cases this results in the bladder being removed.
The council is also expected to recommend a tightening of controls on the drug in pharmacies and hospitals.
Users of the drug report strange perceptual phenomena, such as being able to see and feel sounds.
At higher dosage, users enter a 'K hole' – a state in which they lose all sense of time and feel completely separated from their body.
The drug recently hit the headlines after it featured among the substances allegedly purchased by former Co-Op chairman Paul Flowers.