The Law

Your Responsibilities

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is the main legislation covering drugs and categorises drugs as Class A, B and C. These drugs are termed ‘controlled substances’ and Class A drugs are those considered to be the most harmful.


The Misuse of Drugs Act states it is an offence to


  • Possess a controlled substance unlawfully
  • Possess a controlled substance with intent to supply it
  • Supply or offer to supply a controlled drug (even where no charge is made for the drug)
  • Allow premises you occupy or manage to be used for the purpose of drug taking

Drug trafficking attracts serious punishment, including life imprisonment for Class A offences.

Teenager drinking alcohol


To enforce this law, the police have special powers to stop, detain and search people on ‘reasonable suspicion’ that they are in possession of a controlled drug.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003  creates powers to enable the police to close, for a period of up to six months, premises (including licensed premises) where there is evidence of the sale, use or production of Class A drugs, and where there is also related serious nuisance or disorder.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a duty on employers to protect the health, safety and welfare of both staff and those who may be affected by their undertaking.

This is underpinned by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation 1999, which requires an employer to carry out a risk assessment and where there are five or more staff, record the findings. With respect to drug use, this should cover areas such as violence to staff, how to decrease the risk of injury (e.g. needle-stick injury), what to do if a needle or other drugs paraphernalia is found, and what to do if injury occurs.


The Environment Protection Act 1990 - under this act (Duty of Care) ‘sharps’ (needles) and blood contaminated products are classified as clinical waste and must therefore be disposed of using a registered clinical waste carrier. This responsibility lies with the occupier of the premises.