Response - The Misuse of Drugs Act (Amended)

By: Nicola Robinson  Published: November 2002


Shelter responded in November 2002 to the proposed amendments to Notes of Guidance in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, arguing the amendments will create barriers to providing the necessary support to enable drug users to tackle their dependency.

Summary

Shelter believed that:

  • The Notes of Guidance for section 8(d) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 will create barriers to providing the necessary support to enable drug users to tackle their dependency.
  • The guidance does not provide enough safeguards to allow those working with drug users to exempt them from prosecution. This may well affect the willingness of those individuals or organisations to work with drug users and therefore the guidance is unworkable. We believe that current legislation, which includes the misuse of cannabis and opiates, will need to be amended. Such amendments will need to provide clear assurances that where 'harm reduction' services are being provided, which may include a relapse as part of the recovery process, that the occupier or persons concerned in the management of the premises are not liable for prosecution.
  • Exemption from prosecution should be provided by agencies complying with a code of practice developed by the Home Office in consultation with relevant bodies. These should include the Communities and Law Enforcement Drugs Unit, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister through the Homelessness Directorate, Local Authorities, Housing Associations and the voluntary sector. In addition parents should not be liable for the drug use of dependant children within the home.
  • The guidance does not provide adequate exemptions or safeguards for advice and support agencies, landlords or individuals to work with or accommodate drug users. Exemption from prosecution should be provided by agencies complying with a code of practice developed by the Home Office in consultation with relevant bodies.

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