In order to celebrate the fact we have teamed up with Kenneth Barrow Solicitors to take on defense cases for those being charged with criminal offences, Dan will be taking a look at the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In this article we look at what the act is, why it was put into place and how you could be penalized for choosing not to follow it, from there we will go on to look at the cost of policing drugs and find out if it’s truly worth it. Could it be time for the UK to reform and support those with drug problems instead of punishing them?
The reason legal restrictions are placed on the use of controlled drugs is to try and prevent drug misuse and protect public safety, the principal offences relating to the misuse of controlled drugs are contained in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The primary focus of the Act is to control the use and distribution of dangerous and harmful drugs. The Act classifies the drugs according to their perceived degree of overall harm from misuse.
Drugs are “controlled drugs” if they are specified as being of Class A (such as heroin, cocaine & methamphetamine), B (such as cannabis or ketamine) or C (which is things like steroids), as set out in Parts I, II or III of Schedule 2 to the Act.
Each drug that is individually controlled is specified by reference to its proprietary and/or chemical name. Controlled drugs can also be specified as being a drug or the derivative of a drug if they originate from the same chemical base.
From November 2011, the Home Secretary has been able to make a substance or product a temporary class drug by means of a Temporary Class Drug Order (TCDO).
A TCDO enables the HS to control any substance(s), which are not already controlled and are likely to be misused, a TDCO lasts for a period of 12 months to protect the public from harmful effects.
The 2 most common drug offences to be charged with are possessing and supplying drugs.
You are most likely to be charged with possession of a controlled substance if you are caught on the spot with a sufficient amount for your own personal use. The penalty will usually depend on things such as where the drugs where found, the possessors criminal record and the class and quantity of the drug. If you are carrying excessive amounts of drugs you are more prone to a supply charge.
The penalty for producing or dealing drugs is likely to be far more severe than any possession charges. The table below shows ways in which offenders can be penalized for breaking drug laws.
It takes equivalent to 500 full time police officers per year throughout the UK just to take the time to deal with and process cannabis related cases alone. Research carried out by the Institute for Social and Economic Research shows decriminalizing cannabis could cut the cost of policing, prosecuting and treating drug users by up to £300m a year.
Meanwhile, tax revenue from licensing the drug could raise between £400m and £900m for the exchequer. Amanda Feilding, from who is president of a foundation campaigning for scientifically based reform of the UK’s drugs policy and said: “In these times of economic crisis, it is essential to examine the possibilities of more cost-effective drug policy.”
It seems to me like we are fighting a loosing battle, If we where to license, sell and regulate a number of certain less harmful drugs, we could put police time in to more important things, let the CPS focus on getting justice in more important cases and take in some of the financial gain that we as a nation are so badly crying out for.
If you have been charged with an offence and you know it was unfair or unjust, why not approach one of our team? You can do this by emailing your personal contact information along with a brief description of your case and any supporting documents to firstname.lastname@example.org.