(Arkansas) States health officials are banning the “designer drug” phenazepam, due to public safety concerns. The substance carries the same classification as opiates and hallucinogens and comes in pill, powder, and liquid forms. State Health Director Dr. Paul Halverson says it is no longer legal to buy, sell or use the drug in the state.
“This is a drug that is in the same class as Valium, Xanax, and other drugs. However, it’s manufactured in Russia, it is not approved for use in the United States, and it is five times more potent than Valium,” said Halverson. “It has a very long half-life of about 60 hours, which means that it’s both stronger and lasts longer.”
Halverson says in some cases the drug is being sold as a nutritional supplement. Health officials note an uptick in the use of phenazepam in Arkansas and the state Crime Laboratory has already confirmed at least three cases of the drug.
Possession or distribution of the drug is considered a Class Y felony punishable by 10 to 40 years in prison.