Misuse of Drugs in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Warner v Metropolitan Police Commissioner; R v Warner
    • House of Lords
    • 02 May 1968

    In considering these questions the wording in the Act must be regarded. It is a declared purpose of the Act to prevent the misuse of drugs. If actual possession of particular substances which are regarded as potentially damaging is not controlled there will be danger of the misuse of them by those who possess them. They might be harmfully used: they might be sold in most undesirable ways. Parliament proceeded to define and limit the classes and descriptions of people who alone could possess.

    The question, to which an answer is required, and in the end a jury must answer it, is whether in the circumstances the accused should be held to have possession of the substance, rather than mere control. In order to decide between these two, the jury should, in my opinion, be invited to consider all the circumstances—to use again the words of Pollock and Wright—the "Modes or events" by which the custody commences and the legal incident in which it is held.

  • R v Americo Practico Afonso and Others
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 09 Sep 2004

    These are the offenders who are out-of-work drug addicts, whose motive is solely to finance the feeding of their own addiction, who hold no stock of drugs and who are shown to have made a few retail supplies of the drug to which they are addicted to undercover police officers only.

  • R v McNamara
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 12 Feb 1988

    That, in our judgment, establishes the necessary possession. They must also of course prove that the box in fact contained the drug alleged, in this case cannabis resin. If any of those matters are unproved, there is no case to go to the jury.

  • Sweet v Parsley
    • House of Lords
    • 23 Jan 1969

    But in a very large number of cases there is no clear indication either way. In such cases there has for centuries been a presumption that Parliament did not intend to make criminals of persons who were in no way blameworthy in what they did. That means that whenever a section is silent as to mens rea there is a presumption that, in order to give effect to the will of Parliament, we must read in words appropriate to require mens rea.

  • R v Looseley
    • House of Lords
    • 25 Oct 2001

    By recourse to this principle courts ensure that executive agents of the state do not misuse the coercive, law enforcement functions of the courts and thereby oppress citizens of the state. It is simply not acceptable that the state through its agents should lure its citizens into committing acts forbidden by the law and then seek to prosecute them for doing so. That would be a misuse of state power, and an abuse of the process of the courts.

  • R v Lambert
    • House of Lords
    • 05 Jul 2001

    By imposing a persuasive burden on the accused it would be possible for an accused person to be convicted where the jury believed he might well be innocent but have not been persuaded that he probably did not know the nature of what he possessed. The jury may have a reasonable doubt as to his guilt in respect of his knowledge of the nature of what he possessed but still be required to convict.

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Books & Journal Articles
  • Reviews : The Law on the Misuse of Drugs Rudi Fortson Sweet & Maxwell, 1988, £27.00 hbk, 330pp
    • Nbr. 36-2, June 1989
    • Probation Journal
  • Drug policy under New Labour 1997-2010: Prolonging the war on drugs
    • Nbr. 57-3, September 2010
    • Probation Journal
    In 1997 New Labour came to power with a landslide victory. This period also marked a watershed for illicit drug use which had become so widespread across the UK that it was regarded as a mainstream...
    ......Inheriting an unworkab le 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act 1997 seemed an opportune time fo r the New Labour government to del iver on its ‘promise of change’and introduce drug legislationfit ......
  • Rethinking the generation gap
    • Nbr. 2-1, February 2002
    • Criminology & Criminal Justice
    This article presents data from a secondary analysis of two public opinion surveys that were commissioned by the Independent Inquiry into the Misuse of Drugs Act, which reported in 2000. It is larg...
    ...... Rethinking the generation gap: Attitudes to illicit drugs among young people and adults GEOFFREY PEARSON AND MICHAEL SHINER ... surveys that were commissioned by the Independent Inquiry into the Misuse of Drugs Act, which reported in 2000. It is largely concerned with how ......
  • The Retrospective Effect of S. 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998
    • Nbr. 66-5, October 2002
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The
    When the House of Lords delivered its judgment in Lambert, comment initially concerned the fact that their Lordships held that the legal burden of proof placed on defendants in s. 28 of the Misuse ...
    ......28 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 contravened the presumption of innocence contained ......
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Law Firm Commentaries
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