Criminal Law- Drug Offences

The law in regards to Drug offences in some ways can be seen as not so strict unlike other offences. The police generally use more judgement and therefore it leads to less actual convictions. For example, crimes such as possession, particularly of class C drugs such as Cannabis, police may only issue a warning. If a defendant has 3 warnings then they may be prosecuted. More serious crimes such as supply or intent to supply will be dealt with more seriously and those who are caught, will most likely face trial. There are also a huge number of drug offences, but i will just be covering the basics. They are laid out in the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The structure for most drug offences is fairly straightforward with very few exceptions and defences.

Possession- Section 5.2

Actus Reus

  • To possess a controlled substance. R v Lambert- to be in custody or control of a controlled substance
  • Controlled drugs are stated in schedule 2 of the MDA

Mens Rea

  • To know that they are in possession of something (does not have to know that they are possession of a controlled substance, just knowledge of something) R v Lambert

 

Possession with intent to supplySection 5.3

Actus Reus

  • To possess a controlled substance. R v Lambert- to be in custody or control of a controlled substance
  • Controlled drugs are stated in schedule 2 of the MDA

Mens Rea

  • To know that they are in possession of something (does not have to know that they are possession of a controlled substance, just knowledge of something) R v Lambert
  • With the Ulterior Intent of supplying the controlled substance.

 

Supply/offering to supply Section 4.3.A

Actus Reus

  • Supply means more than a mere transfer of control. R v Maginnis. (link to the MR of the offence)
  • Controlled drug- Schedule 2
  • The offer can be made by words or conduct- R v Prior

Mens Rea

  • Knowledge of supplying something- R v Lambert
  • The intention for the recipient to use the item supplied for their own purpose (second part to Maginnis)

 

Production Section 4.2.B

Actus Reus

  • The method of producing the good is defined in section 37 of the MDA- manufacture, cultivation or any other method. (uses very wide rage to include any method of creating drugs.
  • Controlled drugs- schedule 2

Mens Rea

  • Knowledge in producing something – By analogy of R v Lambert

 

Being concerned with production- Section 4.2.B

Actus Reus

  • The method of producing the good is defined in section 37 of the MDA- manufacture, cultivation or any other method. (uses very wide rage to include any method of creating drugs.
  • Controlled drugs- schedule 2
  • Taking an identifiable role in the production- R v Farr

Mens Rea

  • Knowledge in producing something – By analogy of R v Lambert

 

Occupation/ management of premises- Section 8.2

Actus Reus

  • They must be an occupier of the land meaning that they must have a degree of control in the land- R v Tao
  • Any of the following take place on the property- production, supply, smoking or consumption any controlled drug

Mens Rea

  • Knowingly permits or suffers any of the activities in the AR- Sweet V Parsley
  • Knowledge of relevant activities and unwillingness to prevent it.

 

There are 3 main defences to drug offences held in the MDA:

Lacking relevant knowledge- Section 28.2

  • This will be an defence if the D did not know, or reasonably suspect that he was in possession of a controlled drug and had no reason to suspect they would be in possession of a controlled drug.

Destroying or handing in controlled drugs- section 5.4

  • This will be a defence if D took possession of a drug in order to prevent someone else from committing or continuing to commit a drug offence and as soon as reasonably possible, took all steps to destroy or hand in that controlled substance.

Lawful authority to possess and supply controlled drugs- section 7 and the misuse of drugs regulation 2001

  • This section and regulation allows certain professionals to administer the supply of drugs and possess them in certain circumstances. For example pharmacists, doctors, vets, dentists.

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