UK Crackdown on Recreational Users

Liz Filmer
21 Jul 2022

British Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed this week that middle-class drug users face being banned from nightclubs and having passports and driving licences confiscated. If they refuse, they will be fined. The Home Office said the measures would target users of class A drugs such as cocaine and cannabis smokers.

'We are cracking down on drug use, with stricter consequences for so-called recreational drug users. They will face the consequences of their actions through sanctions, including fines and conditions to attend rehabilitation courses. At the same time, drug offenders could have their passports and driving licences confiscated" Home Secretary Priti Patel

The Home Office published a document titled "Swift, Certain, Tough New consequences for drug possession" shortly following the announcement. 

Under the new rules, offenders in England and Wales would be subject to a "three strikes"-system. The system breaks up offences into three tiers. Reports suggest that it will impact the nation's middle class the most. 

Firstly, anyone caught with illegal drugs would be forced to pay for and attend a drug awareness course. If they fail to comply, they would receive an increased fixed penalty notice or face prosecution. 

Second-time offenders would be cautioned, ordered to attend an additional drug awareness course, and submit to random drug testing for up to three months.

People charged with drugs for the third time would likely be charged. They could be subject to an exclusion order upon conviction as part of a civil court order. This would ban them from nightclubs and entertainment venues and confiscate their passports or driver's licenses.

The White Paper goes on to say how drugs cause "enormous harm to children and young people, impacting on their health and their ability to work and learn".

Home Secretary Priti Patel continued, "In line with our strategy to tackle the harmful consequences of drugs, we aim to reverse the rising trend of substance use in society to protect the public from the harm and violence of drug misuse."

The legislation came to light seven months after the UK government published its 10 year drug strategy and will now go through a 12-week consultation period. 

The latest crime survey for England and Wales showed a 72% increase in deaths related to drug poisoning and a 2% increase in "frequent drug users" between 2011 and 2020.

It's a big move, especially when considering the popularity of cannabis in the UK. In 2019-2020, 29.6 per cent of people in England and Wales between 16 and 59 had used cannabis during their lifetime. In 2020/21, the police of England and Wales made 159,209 seizures of cannabis. According to polling from an industry group, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry(ACI), one-fifth of British adults have tried CBD flower or oil, and 58% of respondents believe it has health benefits.

Liz Filmer