||Heroin, LSD, ecstasy, amphetamines (prepared for injection), cocaine and crack cocaine, magic mushrooms.
||For possession: 7 years' imprisonment and/or fine.
For supply: life imprisonment and/or fine.
||Amphetamines, methylamphetamine, barbiturates, codeine.
||For possession: 5 years' imprisonment and/or fine.
For supply: 14 years' imprisonment and/or a fine.
||Cannabis, temazepam, anabolic steroids, valium, ketamine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), gamma-hydroxy butyrate (GHB).
||For possession: 2 years' imprisonment and/or fine.
For supply: 14 years' imprisonment and/or fine.
8. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it is an offence to possess
a controlled drug unlawfully; to possess with intent to supply;
to supply or offer to supply a controlled drug (even where no
charge is made); to allow premises to be used for the purpose
of drug taking; and to traffic in drugs.
While the Act specifies the penalties attracted by offences associated
with drugs of different categories, the police and courts retain
a degree of discretion in policing and sentencing. The RAND report
on the evidence base for the classification system for illegal
drugs (see paragraph 10) points out that "in 2004 under 10,000
of the 70,000 drug offences coming before the courts attracted
any custodial sentence" and that "In the first three
years' operation of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997, which introduced
minimum sentences for those caught dealing in Class A drugs for
the third time, only three people were actually sentenced in accordance
with the powers of the act".
We return to the relationship between the classification system
and penalties for possession and supply of controlled drugs in
|Aim of drug legislation
||To reduce supply, prevent uptake, reduce crime and increase treatment uptake
||To cut off supply of drugs to users
||To reduce harm to individuals and society
||To create a drug free state
||Classes A-C; based on the relative harm of drugs. Class A is the most harmful, Class C the least harmful
||Five schedules (I to V): based on abuse, dependence and medical use
||Two schedules: I for drugs with unacceptable health risk; II for negligible risk drugs
||Five lists; list I is narcotics with no medical use; list V is drugs that lie outside international conventions
|Different penalties for Classes
||Maximum penalties depend on the nature of the offence (supply or possession)
||Maximum penalties depend on amount of drug possessed. Different penalties in different States. Penalties increase with the number of offences
||Maximum penalties depend on amount of drug possessed. Penalties increase with the number of offences
||Maximum penalties depend on the amount of drug possessed
|Maximum imprisonment for possession
||Up to 7 years for Class A drugs
||Up to life for large quantities
||Up to 2 years
||Up to 10 years for large quantities
||Opportunities for offenders to take treatment rather than fines or cautions
||2. Drug courts recommend treatment regimes rather than prison sentences
||3. Can be enforced for addicts with drug crime history
||4. Mandatory for offenders who are a danger to themselves or society
|Use of scientific evidence in policy making?
||Evidence on medical and social harm, punishment and treatment may be considered.
||5. Large budget for research. Specific scientific criteria for scheduling drugs
||6. Government commissions research into drug harm and facilitates meetings between scientists and policy makers
||7. Scientific evidence on treatment is used, but not on drug harm
|Drugs in top class/schedule/list identified as a policy concern
|% population using any drug in the last 12 months
(for cannabis alone)
||National Curriculum guidelines on teaching about drug issues
||Government funded programme for drug free schools
||No legal requirement to teach drug issues but there are state guidelines
||All years in school have drug teaching; involves parents and pupils
(US$ per gram; 2004)
- Cocaine - 0.97
- Cannabis - 4.40
- amphetamine - 14.70
- cocaine - 0.77
- cannabis - 11.40
- methamphetamine - 96.50
- cocaine - 0.50
- cannabis - 6.90
- amphetamine - 8.00
- cocaine - 0.86
- cannabis - 5.90
- amphetamine - 33.90