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Drug Offences Notes

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This is an extract of our Drug Offences document, which we sell as part of our GDL Criminal Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students.

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Criminal: Drug Offences


- Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: to regulate possession, production, importation and supply of controlled drugs.

- Controlled drugs. s2 MDA 1971: incorporates Schedule 2. Schedule 2 MDA 1971: specif ies controlled drugs + classif ies: affects max. sentence for offences. Class A: e.g. cocaine, ecstasy, opium, heroin, 'magic mushrooms'. Class B: e.g. amphetamine, cannabis, cannabis resin, codeine. Class C: e.g. valium, GHB, ketamine. R v Courtie [1984]: 3 crimes for each offence under MDA - one for each class.

- Modes of trial + punishment. s25 MDA 1971: incorporates Schedule 4. Schedule 4 MDA 1971: indication of which court offence should be tried in + maximum penalty for each offence (dep. on class of drug).

Offences relating to Possession - s5 MDA 1971.

s5(2): possession of a controlled drug (simple possession) s5(3): possession with intent to supply s5(4): specific defences

Possession of controlled drug - s5(2) maximum sentence: Class A - 7 years; Class B - 5 years; Class C - 2 years.

- Actus Reus: possession of controlled drug with lack of authorisation. possession: physical possession, custody or control. physical control: Warner v MPC [1969], confirmed in R v Boyesen [1982]. inc. anything subject to d's control in custody of another: s37(3). visible, tangible + quantifiable amount (even if too little to use): R v Boyesen. joint possession possible: R v Bland [1988] - d. must have knowledge + some control (but: mere presence + knowledge without encouragement/control insufficient). lack of authorisation: s7 + regulations under s7 - burden of proof on defendant. authorisation of certain drugs. authorisation of drugs in certain circumstances: e.g. police after seizing. authorisation of certain people to possess certain drugs: e.g. doctors, vets etc.

- Mens Rea: knowledge of possession. (not specif ied in Act: originally thought to be offence of absolute liability). knowledge of possession of item, NOT nature of item: Warner v MPC confirmed by R v Boyesen. can be imputed: e.g. Warner v MPC: d. picked up package containing drugs thinking it contained perfume ? deemed to have knowledge: should have checked. mistake as to type of drug irrelevant: e.g. Searle v Randolph [1972]: d. picked up cigarette ends not realising they contained some cannabis ? deemed to be in possession of cannabis. BUT mistaking drug for completely different substance: defence under s28. e.g. R v McNamara [1988]: belief that box contained porn videos, not cannabis.

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