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The law and the criminal justice system 

The law and the criminal justice system
Chapter:
The law and the criminal justice system
Author(s):

Martin Plant

, Roy Robertson

, Moira Plant

, and Patrick Miller

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199544790.003.006
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date: 16 October 2019

This chapter summarizes the main provisions of the UK's Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) and other legislation related to illicit drug use. It should be noted that this important piece of legislation is derived from the International United National Convention 1961. This Convention sets out the framework for domestic legislation in member countries but often results in slightly different laws with varying penalties and constraints. For this reason differences are often observed between countries when comparisons are made. It also considers some of the recent debates about the operation of the criminal justice system in relation to drugs and drug users. The legal classification of drugs will be critically considered in the light of evidence suggesting that some legal drugs (such as alcohol and tobacco) are at least as dangerous as some of those which are illegal. A review will also be provided of trends in cautions and convictions for drug-related offences. The overall role of drugs in relation to crime and the criminal justice system will also be considered. This discussion will include the issues of drug offenders, drug dependents and drug use in prison, the impact of drugs on the court service, probation, and Customs and Excise.

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