Criminal responsibility and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Shiels, Robert Sinclair (1982) Criminal responsibility and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. LL.M(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

One of the prominent features of the legislation concerned with the use or misuse of dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs, also known as controlled drugs, is the close connection between international agreements entered into by the British government and subsequent domestic regulations. This was undoubtedly the case with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, a statute which is a consolidating Act and which sought to legislate for modern conditions most noted for their rapid change in the demand for and supply of particular drugs and in the habits of addiction. The 1971 Act is related to the international obligations as the successor in a line of domestic statutes, beginning with the Pharmacy Act 1868. The 1971 Act contains some twenty crimes and offences in relation to controlled drugs and in this respect the Act is noted for the increasingly complex and detailed offences when compared with earlier Acts. This work is concerned only with the criminal aspects of the law relating to the misuse of drugs. There has been in recent years a great increase in the literature concerning the sociological, psychological and medical aspects of drugs and the conditions of and encouraging their misuse. This work is concerned with criminal responsibility and the misuse of drugs. In the light of the general principles of criminal law this work attempts to analyse the criminal offences in terms of the statutory provisions and the subsequent case law. Each offence in the Act is considered separately and its development since the passing of the 1971 Act is seen through the particular reported cases and in relation to the general changes in the criminal law. The actus reus and the mens rea of the offences are considered, as are the defences contained in the Act. In particular the fundamental principles such as the burden of proof are discussed and the recent changes in the law in relation to the burden of proof on the accused is seen to be set to follow Australian precedents although such changes in United Kingdom jurisdictions are seen also to be gradual, hesitant and without any great display of enthusiasm on the part of the judiciary. The nature of mens rea is analysed and the recommendation in the recent reports by the Law Commission is compared to the law relating to the misuse of drugs. This work concludes that the increasing importance of statutory offences, as reflected in some of the very heavy sentences possible in terms of the 1971 Act, requires that the law in relation to mens rea should be more settled and that although legislation is unlikely in the near future, commentators should seek to find answers to the complex questions in order to give suitable advice to Parliament when called upon to do so. The law is stated as at 26th August 1981.

Item Type: Thesis (LL.M(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Law
Date of Award: 1982
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1982-72001
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 13:27
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 13:27
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72001

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