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MISUSE OF DRUGS ACT 1971

UK Public General Acts

Version 01/02/2002

1971 CHAPTER 38

Default Geographical Extent: E+W+S+N.I.


  • The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
  • Controlled drugs and their classification
  • Restrictions relating to controlled drugs etc.
  • Miscellaneous offences involving controlled drugs etc.
  • Powers of Secretary of State for preventing misuse of controlled drugs
  • Miscellaneous offences and powers
  • Law enforcement and punishment of offences
  • Miscellaneous and supplementary provisions
  • Version 01/02/2002
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  • Version 01/02/1991

Introductory Text

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

1971 CHAPTER 38

An Act to make new provision with respect to dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs and related matters, and for purposes connected therewith.

[27th May 1971]

Annotations:

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C1 Act applied (1.10.1996) by 1955 c. 18, s.34A(2) (as inserted by 1996 c. 46, s. 32(1)); S.I. 1996/2474, arts.2,3

Act applied (1.10.1996) by 1955 c. 19, s.34A(2) as inserted by 1996 c. 46, s. 32(2); S.I. 1996/2474, arts.2, 3

Act applied (1.10.1996) by 1957 c. 53, s.12A as inserted by 1996 c. 46, s. 32(3); S.I. 1996/2474, arts.2, 3

Commencement Information

I1 Act not in force at Royal Assent, see s.40; Act wholly in force at 1 July 1973.


The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs


1 The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

(1) There shall be constituted in accordance with Schedule 1 to this Act as Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (in this Act referred to as “the Advisory Council”) ; and the supplementary provisions contained in that Schedule shall have effect in relation to the Council.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Advisory Council to keep under review the situation in the United Kingdom with respect to drugs which are being or appear to them likely to be misused and of which the misuse is having or appears to them capable of having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem, and to give to any one or more of the Ministers, where either the Council consider it expedient to do so or they are consulted by the Minister or Ministers in question, advice on measures (whether or not involving alteration of the law) which in the opinion of the Council ought to be taken for preventing the misuse of such drugs or dealing with social problems connected with their misuse, and in particular on measures which in the opinion of the Council ought to be taken—

(a) for restricting the availability of such drugs or supervising the arrangements for their supply;
(b) for enabling persons affected by the misuse of such drugs to obtain proper advice, and for securing the provision of proper facilities and services for the treatment, rehabilitation and after-care of such persons;
(c) for promoting co-operation between the various professional and community services which in the opinion of the Council have a part to play in dealing with social problems connected with the misuse of such drugs;
(d) for educating the public (and in particular the young) in the dangers of misusing such drugs, and for giving publicity to those dangers; and
(e) for promoting research into, or otherwise obtaining information about, any matter which in the opinion of the Council is of relevance for the purpose of preventing the misuse of such drugs or dealing with any social problem connected with their misuse.
(3) It shall also be the duty of the Advisory Council to consider any matter relating to drug dependence or the misuse of drugs which may be referred to them by any one or more of the Ministers and to advise the Minister or Ministers in question thereon, and in particular to consider and advise the Secretary of State with respect to any communication referred by him to the Council, being a communication relating to the control of any dangerous or otherwise harmful drug made to Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom by any organisation or authority established by or under any treaty, convention or other agreement or arrangement to which that Government is for the time being a party.

(4) In this section “the Ministers” means the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Secretaries of State respectively concerned with health in England, Wales and Scotland, the Secretaries of State respectively concerned with education in England, Wales and Scotland, the Minister of Home Affairs for Northern Ireland, the Minister of Health and Social Services for Northern Ireland and the Minister of Education for Northern Ireland.

Annotations:

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C2 S. 1: Powers transferred (W.) (1.7.1999) by virtue of S.I. 1999/672, art. 2, Sch. 1

C3 References to Ministers of Northern Ireland to be construed as references to heads of departments bearing names of respective Ministries immediately before 1.1.1974 Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 (c. 36), Sch. 5 para. 7(1)


Controlled drugs and their classification


2 Controlled drugs and their classification for purposes of this Act.

(1) In this Act—

(a) the expression “controlled drug” means any substance or product for the time being specified in Part I, II, or III of Schedule 2 to this Act; and
(b) the expressions “Class A drug”, “Class B drug” and “Class C drug” mean any of the substances and products for the time being specified respectively in Part I, Part II and Part III of that Schedule;
and the provisions of Part IV of that Schedule shall have effect with respect to the meanings of expressions used in that Schedule.
(2) Her Majesty may by Order in Council make such amendments in Schedule 2 to this Act as may be requisite for the purpose of adding any substance or product to, or removing any substance or product from, any of Parts I to III of that Schedule, including amendments for securing that no substance or product is for the time being specified in a particular one of those Parts or for inserting any substance or product into any of those Parts in which no substance or product is for the time being specified.

(3) An Order in Council under this section may amend Part IV of Schedule 2 to this Act, and may do so whether or not it amends any other Part of this Schedule.

(4) An Order in Council under this section may be varied or revoked by a subsequent Order in Council thereunder.

(5) No recommendation shall be made to Her Majesty in Council to make an Order under this section unless a draft of the Order has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament; and the Secretary of State shall not lay a draft of such an Order before Parliament except after consultation with or on the recommendation of the Advisory Council.

Restrictions relating to controlled drugs etc.


3 Restriction of importation and exportation of controlled drugs.

(1) Subject to subsection (2) below—

(a) the importation of a controlled drug; and
(b) the exportation of a controlled drug,
are hereby prohibited.
(2) Subsection (1) above does not apply—

(a) to the importation or exportation of a controlled drug which is for the time being excepted from paragraph (a) or, as the case may be, paragraph (b) of subsection (1) above by regulations under section 7 of this Act; or
(b) to the importation or exportation of a controlled drug under and in accordance with the terms of a licence issued by the Secretary of State and in compliance with any conditions attached thereto.

4 Restriction of production and supply of controlled drugs.

(1) Subject to any regulations under section 7 of this Act for the time being in force, it shall not be lawful for a person—

(a) to produce a controlled drug; or
(b) to supply or offer to supply a controlled drug to another.
(2) Subject to section 28 of this Act, it is an offence for a person—

(a) to produce a controlled drug in contravention of subsection (1) above; or
(b) to be concerned in the production of such a drug in contravention of that subsection by another.
(3) Subject to section 28 of this Act, it is an offence for a person—

(a) to supply or offer to supply a controlled drug to another in contravention of subsection (1) above; or
(b) to be concerned in the supplying of such a drug to another in contravention of that subsection; or
(c) to be concerned in the making to another in contravention of that subsection of an offer to supply such a drug.
Annotations:

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C4 S. 4(1)(a) excluded (1.2.2002) by S.I. 2001/3998, regs. 4, 8(1), 9(1) (with reg. 2(3))

C5 S. 4(1)(b) excluded (1.2.2002) by S.I. 2001/3998, regs. 6, 8(2)-(6), 9(2)-(6), 11(1)(2) (with reg. 2(3))

C6 S. 4(2)(3) saved by (E.W.) Criminal Law Act 1977 (c. 45), Sch. 5 para. 1(2)(b)(i)(ii) and (S.) Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 (c. 21), Sch. 7B para. 1(2)(b)(i)(ii)


5 Restriction of possession of controlled drugs.

(1) Subject to any regulations under section 7 of this Act for the time being in force, it shall not be lawful for a person to have a controlled drug in his possession.

(2) Subject to section 28 of this Act and to subsection (4) below, it is an offence for a person to have a controlled drug in his possession in contravention of subsection (1) above.

(3) Subject to section 28 of this Act, it is an offence for a person to have a controlled drug in his possession, whether lawfully or not, with intent to supply it to another in contravention of section 4(1) of this Act.

(4) In any proceedings for an offence under subsection (2) above in which it is proved that the accused had a controlled drug in his possession, it shall be a defence for him to prove—

(a) that, knowing or suspecting it to be a controlled drug, he took possession of it for the purpose of preventing another from committing or continuing to commit an offence in connection with that drug and that as soon as possible after taking possession of it he took all such steps as were reasonably open to him to destroy the drug or to deliver it into the custody of a person lawfully entitled to take custody of it; or
(b) that, knowing or suspecting it to be a controlled drug, he took possession of it for the purpose of delivering it into the custody of a person lawfully entitled to take custody of it and that as soon as possible after taking possession of it he took all such steps as were reasonably open to him to deliver it into the custody of such a person.
[F1 (5) Subsection (4) above shall apply in the case of proceedings for an offence under section 19(1) of this Act consisting of an attempt to commit an offence under subsection (2) above as it applies in the case of proceedings for an offence under subsection (2) , subject to the following modifications, that is to say—

(a) for the references to the accused having in his possession, and to his taking possession of, a controlled drug there shall be substituted respectively references to his attempting to get, and to his attempting to take, possession of such a drug; and
(b) in paragraphs (a) and (b) the words from “and that as soon as possible” onwards shall be omitted.]
(6) Nothing in subsection (4) [F2 or (5) ] above shall prejudice any defence which it is open to a person charged with an offence under this section to raise apart from that subsection.

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F1 S. 5(5) repealed (E.W.) by Criminal Attempts Act 1981 (c. 47, SIF 39:1), Sch. Pt. I and (N.I.) by S.I. 1983/1120 (N.I. 13), Sch.

F2 Words repealed (E.W.) by Criminal Attempts Act 1981 (c. 47, SIF 39:1), Sch. Pt. I and (N.I.) by S.I. 1983/1120 (N.I. 13), Sch.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C7 S. 5(1) excluded (1.2.2002) by S.I. 2001/3998, regs. 4, 6(4)-(7), 10, 11(1)(2) (with reg. 2(3))

C8 S. 5(2)(3) saved by (E.W.) Criminal Law Act 1977 (c. 45), Sch. 5 para. 1(2)(a)(b)(iii) and (S.) Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 (c. 21), Sch. 7B, para. 1(2)(a)(b)(iii)


6 Restriction of cultivation of cannabis plant.

(1) Subject to any regulations under section 7 of this Act for the time being in force, it shall not be lawful for a person to cultivate any plant of the genusCannabis.

(2) Subject to section 28 of this Act, it is an offence to cultivate any such plant in contravention subsection (1) above.

7 Authorisation of activities otherwise unlawful under foregoing provisions.

(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations—

(a) except from section 3(1) (a) or (b) , 4(1) (a) or (b) or 5(1) of this Act such controlled drugs as may be specified in the regulations; and
(b) make such other provision as he thinks fit for the purpose of making it lawful for persons to do things which under any of the following provisions of this Act, that is to say sections 4(1) , 5(1) and 6(1) , it would otherwise be unlawful for them to do.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) above, regulations under that subsection authorising the doing of any such thing as is mentioned in that paragraph may in particular provide for the doing of that thing to be lawful—

(a) if it is done under and in accordance with the terms of a licence or other authority issued by the Secretary of State and in compliance with any conditions attached thereto; or
(b) if it is done in compliance with such conditions as may be prescribed.
(3) Subject to subsection (4) below, the Secretary of State shall so exercise his power to make regulations under subsection (1) above as to secure—

(a) that it is not unlawful under section 4(1) of this Act for a doctor, dentist, veterinary practitioner or veterinary surgeon, acting in his capacity as such, to prescribe, administer, manufacture, compound or supply a controlled drug, or for a pharmacist or a person lawfully conducting a retail pharmacy business, acting in either case in his capacity as such, to manufacture, compound or supply a controlled drug; and
(b) that it is not unlawful under section 5(1) of this Act for a doctor, dentist, veterinary practitioner, veterinary surgeon, pharmacist or person lawfully conducting a retail pharmacy business to have a controlled drug in his possession for the purpose of acting in his capacity as such.
(4) If in the case of any controlled drug the Secretary of State is of the opinion that it is in the public interest—

(a) for production, supply and possession of that drug to be either wholly unlawful or unlawful except for purposes of research or other special purposes; or
(b) for it to be unlawful for practitioners, pharmacists and persons lawfully conducting retail pharmacy businesses to do in relation to that drug any of the things mentioned in subsection (3) above except under a licence or other authority issued by the Secretary of State,
he may by order designate that drug as a drug to which this subsection applies; and while there is in force an order under this subsection designating a controlled drug as one to which this subsection applies, subsection (3) above shall not apply as regards that drug.
(5) Any order under subsection (4) above may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order thereunder.

(6) The power to make orders under subsection (4) above shall be exercisable by statutory instrument, which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

(7) The Secretary of State shall not make any order under subsection (4) above except after consultation with or on the recommendation of the Advisory Council.

(8) References in this section to a person’s “doing” things include references to his having things in his possession.

(9) In its application to Northern Ireland this section shall have effect as if for references to the Secretary of State there were substituted references to the Ministry of Home Affairs for Northern Ireland and as if for subsection (6) there were substituted—

“(6) Any order made under subsection (4) above by the Ministry of Home Affairs for Northern Ireland shall be subject to negative resolution within the meaning of section 41(6) of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954 as if it were a statutory instrument within the meaning of that Act.”
Annotations:

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C9 S. 7 amended (E.W.S.) (prosp) by 1954 c. 61, s.13I(1)(c) (as inserted (E.W.S.) (prosp) by 1997 c. 19, ss. 1, 2, Sch. para. 2)

C10 Functions of Ministry of Home Affairs for Northern Ireland transferred to Department of Health and Social Services for Northern Ireland by S.R. & O. (N.I.) 1973 No. 504, Sch. 2 Pt. I


Miscellaneous offences involving controlled drugs etc.


8 Occupiers etc. of premises to be punishable for permitting certain activities to take place there.

A person commits an offence if, being the occupier or concerned in the management of any premises, he knowingly permits or suffers any of the following activities to take place on those premises, that is to say—

(a) producing or attempting to produce a controlled drug in contravention of section 4(1) of this Act;
(b) supplying or attempting to supply a controlled drug to another in contravention of section 4(1) of this Act, or offering to supply a controlled drug to another in contravention of section 4(1) ;
(c) preparing opium for smoking;
(d) smoking cannabis, cannabis resin or prepared opium.
Annotations:

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C11 S. 8 saved by (E.W.) Criminal Law Act 1977 (c. 45), Sch. 5 para. 1(2)(b)(iv) and (S.) Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 (c. 21), Sch. 7B para. 1(2)(b)(iv)

C12 S. 8 excluded by S.I. 1985/2066, art. 13 and S.R. 1986/52, art. 13

C13 S. 8 restricted (1.2.2002) by S.I. 2001/3998, reg. 13 (with reg. 2(3))


9 Prohibition of certain activities etc. relating to opium.

Subject to section 28 of this Act, it is an offence for a person—

(a) to smoke or otherwise use prepared opium; or
(b) to frequent a place used for the purpose of opium smoking; or
(c) to have in his possession—
(i) any pipes or other utensils made or adapted for use in connection with the smoking of opium, being pipes or utensils which have been used by him or with his knowledge and permission in that connection or which he intends to use or permit others to use in that connection; or
(ii) any utensils which have been used by him or with his knowledge and permission in connection with the preparation of opium for smoking.

[F3 9A Prohibition of supply etc. of articles for administering or preparing controlled drugs.

(1) A person who supplies or offers to supply any article which may be used or adapted to be used (whether by itself or in combination with another article or other articles) in the administration by any person of a controlled drug to himself or another, believing that the article (or the article as adapted) is to be so used in circumstances where the administration is unlawful, is guilty of an offence.

(2) It is not an offence under subsection (1) above to supply or offer to supply a hypodermic syringe, or any part of one.

(3) A person who supplies or offers to supply any article which may be used to prepare a controlled drug for administration by any person to himself or another believing that the article is to be so used in circumstances where the administration is unlawful is guilty of an offence.

(4) For the purposes of this section, any administration of a controlled drug is unlawful except—

(a) the administration by any person of a controlled drug to another in circumstances where the administration of the drug is not unlawful under section 4(1) of this Act, or
(b) the administration by any person of a controlled drug to himself in circumstances where having the controlled drug in his possession is not unlawful under section 5(1) of this Act.
(5) In this section, references to administration by any person of a controlled drug to himself include a reference to his administering it to himself with the assistance of another]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F3 S. 9A inserted by Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 (c. 32, SIF 39:1), s. 34(1)