The Washington PostThe Washington Post

This doctor prescribes ketamine to thousands online. It's all legal.

By Daniel Gilbert

30 Dec 2022 · 9 min read

Editor's Note

Is it a sedative street drug or a treatment for depression? The Washington Post reports on how doctors are using pandemic-era public health emergency laws to prescribe controlled substances.

In the past two years, Scott Smith has become licensed to practice medicine in almost every U.S. state for a singular purpose: treating depressed patients online and prescribing them ketamine.

The sedative, which is sometimes abused as a street drug, has shown promise in treating depression and anxiety. But instead of dispensing it in a clinic or under the strict protocols endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration, the South Carolina physician orders generic lozenges online for patients to take at home. He says this practice, though controversial, has benefited more than half of his 3,000 patients. "People are beating a path to my door," he said in an interview.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content