New legislation was introduced in 2016 banning the production, sale, distribution and supply of psychoactive substances.
A review of the legislation took place earlier this year and the main findings are below.
What challenges have there been for the law?
There have been three main challenges. These concern:
- the medicinal products exemption for nitrous oxide
- the psychoactivity of the same gas, and
- the psychoactivity of synthetic cannabinoids.
What was decided?
In each case, the Court held that the substances were subject to the provisions of the Act.
What enforcement has been taken?
There have been around 270 prosecutions under the Act. About 170 sentences have been imposed and 332 retailers have been identified as the ceasing sale of psychoactive substances.
Police forces have recorded 1,481 arrests and seizures up to March 2017, so it is clear that the supply of the substances has not been eliminated.
Has the new law on psychoactive substances had any effect?
The main aim of the Act was to prevent the open sale of psychoactive substances, and this has largely been achieved. There has been a fall in the use of the substances and therefore a reduction in health-related harm.
There has been an increase in the supply by street dealers, an increased use in some prison populations and amongst the homeless and there is a continued development of new substances in an aim to avoid the legislation.
What are the penalties?
The maximum penalty for producing, supplying, possessing with intent to supply or importing psychoactive substance is seven years. The maximum penalty for possession of a psychoactive substance in a custodial setting is two years.
The Act also introduced a scale of civil sanctions:
- prohibition notices
- premises notices
- prohibition orders, and
- premises orders
Breach of the two orders is a criminal offence.
How can we help?
Stronger penalties are available under the Misuse of Drugs Act. As a result it is essential to ensure that the correct legislation is being applied. We are experts in this area and can provide you with tailored advice.
As a result, if you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about a criminal offence involving controlled drugs or psychoactive substances then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.
If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case. Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.
Alternatively you can use the contact form below: