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3 min read

Is Ketamine Legal in New York? Yes, In Some Cases

spravato esketamine product image

Key Takeaways:

  • Ketamine is a schedule III controlled substance, so possessing it without a prescription is illegal.
  • In some cases, and under the supervision of a medical professional, the use of ketamine can be legal.
  • If you have treatment-resistant depression, Spravato (esketamine) may be able to help. Speak to a doctor or psychiatrist to learn more.

Ketamine has been in the headlines lately for its potential medical applications. Some studies show that IV ketamine therapy can be an effective treatment for treatment-resistant depression and major depressive disorder.

There is even an FDA-approved medication called Spravato that can be administered by a a physician or psychiatrist for certain patients with chronic, severe depression that has not been responding to traditional antidepressants.

But if you're in the pool of patients with depression who are considering any kind of ketamine therapy, you have to be very careful. It's not legal everywhere, and its legal uses are usually significantly restricted by governing bodies.

Read more to learn the ins and outs of ketamine's legality in New York.

Note: While this article can serve as a general guide to the legality of ketamine therapy in New York, it is not a replacement for true legal counsel. If you are concerned about your use or possession of ketamine, please speak with a lawyer.

Ketamine Resources On This Page:

Legal Uses of Ketamine

Illegal Uses of Ketamine 

Ketamine Therapy with Spravato

Legal Uses of Ketamine

While ketamine is a controlled substance (Schedule III), and possessing it without a prescription is a great way to land in jail, there are a few situations where it is legal to possess and use ketamine.

Ketamine Clinics and Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine clinics are essentially doctor's offices that utilize IV ketamine infusions for patients with treatment-resistant depression.

The caveat: In this context, the patient must have a prescription for IV ketamine, and it must be administered under the direct supervision of a licensed professional. IV ketamine therapy is considered an off-label use of the drug, meaning it is not FDA-approved.

Spravato (Esketamine)

Spravato is the only FDA-approved medical use of ketamine outside of as a general anesthetic. Technically, Spravato is esketamine. Very closely related to ketamine, esketamine can be suspended in a fluid and taken through a nasal spray.

The caveat: Spravato can only be prescribed to a patient if he, she, or they have tried several other antidepressants to no effect, as well as trying various forms of therapy and lifestyle changes.

The patient must take Spravato under the direct supervision of a doctor or psychiatrist, and must be under that supervision for 2 hours after administration.


Ketamine's (not esketamine's) only FDA-approved use is as an anesthetic. For years, veterinarians and physicians have been using it to put horses and humans to sleep for surgical operations.

The Caveat: Ketamine can only be used as an anesthetic by a physician, and must be given to the patient in any sort of "to-go" format. It's often used only if the patient has an allergy or conflicting condition that prohibits the use of other anesthetics.

Illegal Uses of Ketamine

Ketamine is indicated for several medical uses, but is by and large illegal in most states including New York.


Possession of ketamine without a prescription in small amounts is considered recreational use and is a misdemeanor in the state of New York.

If you are caught with fewer than 1000 mgs of ketamine in New York, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties can include up to $1,000 in fines and one year in prison.

If you:

  • Possess 1,000 mg to 3,999 mg of ketamine

  • Have a clear intent to sell any amount of ketamine

  • Or are caught in possession of ketamine with a past ketamine-related charge

you may be charged with a Class D felony and, if found guilty, can face $2,500 in fines and up to 2.5 years in prison.

Finally, if you are caught with 4,000 mg of recreational ketamine or more, you may face up to 5,5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Medical Fraud

If you are caught using fraudulent methods to try and obtain a prescription for ketamine, you may be at the mercy of federal drug laws, which can come with severe penalties.

Some examples of medical fraud include:

  • Faking symptoms

  • Stealing prescription pads

  • Coercion of a physician or psychiatrist

Not only is medical fraud illegal, but it's also extremely dangerous. Only a medical doctor has the experience and training necessary to determine whether ketamine, or any other prescription drug is safe for you.

Failure to get proper clearance before taking ketamine can lead to psychological dependence, psychosis, and other permanent effects.

Ketamine Therapy With Spravato from Williamsburg Psychiatry Group

At Williamsburg Psychiatry Group, the psychiatric arm of Williamsburg Therapy Group, we provide a safe and holistically-focused way to receive Spravato esketamine nasal spray.

We pride ourselves on providing a heightened mental health experience for those in Brooklyn who need it. Rather than simply dosing you up, our dedicated team of psychiatrists will work with you to determine the right full-scope medical treatment plan for you.

This often includes partnering with one of Williamsburg Therapy Group's doctoral-level psychologists to provide talk therapy alongside your esketamine treatment.

The first step is setting up a consult. Give us a call to be matched with one of our expert psychiatrists, or schedule online below. If you have been diagnosed with treatment resistant depression, feeling better may be closer than you think.

Book a Psychiatry Appointment

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