29 July 2010

One of our Drugs Acts is Missing!

It's strange, that, if you try finding a complete list of drugs which are 'controlled' under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it simply doesn't seem to exist on line.

It's a broken up, jumbled mess spread across numerous websites and documents. It's not of course helped that The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is interlinked with the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (2001) which in turn were an update an consolidation of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (1985). So there are two primary pieces of legislation. When drugs have been added, removed, moved down, or, as is more likely moved up the categories, parliamentary "Statutory Instruments" have been used to insert the changes.

But unfortunately these changes haven't been consolidated in the main legislation, and so to get a complete list of all the drugs you have to trawl across numerous pieces of legislation.

So look, for example at the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as posted on the Statute Law Database, Thi, unfortunately hasn't incorporated changes since 2003.

Or the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 on the Office of Public Sector Information - none of the numerous changes to the Regulations obvious here either.

Most of them took place through Statutory Instruments - a directory of these can be found on the OPSI website too, but searching within these for "Misuse of Drugs Act 1971" throws up some 720 results which can, with a bit of filtering be reduced to some 35 or so SIs.

There's another list which is a bit more accessible on the Home Office website which is snappily titled "List of Drugs Currently Controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Legislation" which is almost up to date (it ends at March 2010) and is fairly comprehensive - but doesn't include all the various analogue clauses.

But if you want a list of all the drugs, with all the analogue clauses, which reflects all the changes - well there isn't one officially available.

This strikes me as fairly shoddy. People should at least be able to find out which substances are currently legal or illegal in a relatively straightforward way. If people are to make informed choices, a key choice is to know if what they are going to do is illegal or not. After all, possession of these substances can carry a long custodial sentence. And ignorance of the law is no defence.

So, for want of anything better to do I spent a couple of days cutting and pasting the list of drugs together from the two base lists of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Misuse of Drugs Legislation 2001. I went through all the Statutory Instruments and inserted the relevant additions and ammendments in the right places. And to finish off I colour coded the additions to the Statutory Instrument which introduced them, so you can see which changes were introduced by which legislation.

I don't know how useful it is but it's certainly very pretty now. And I thought that,somewhere on the Net there should be a complete list of the Controlled drugs in the UK by Class and Schedule.

I'm going to update the version off the Home Office website next (with some better annotation) but first I need to get rid of the splitting headache that this has given me.

Enjoy the full colurful list here on the KFx Website.

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