Psychoactive Substances Bill: Lords report stage

20 July 2015

The Psychoactive Substances Bill had its third reading, a final chance to ‘tidy up’ the bill, on Monday 20 July.

The bill now goes to the Commons for its consideration.

Lords report stage: Tuesday 14 July

A proposal to amend the definition of 'psychoactive substance' to include the concept of harm was taken to a vote. Members voted 95 in favour and 314 against, so the change was not made to the bill.

The second vote concerned the supply of psychoactive substances in prisons. An amendment to make the supply of these drugs on prison premises an aggravating feature relevant to sentencing was added to the bill after members voted 178 in favour and 139 against.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill now moves to third reading, the chance to 'tidy up' the bill. It is scheduled for Monday 20 July.  

Lords committee stage day two: Tuesday 30 June

Members of the Lords began by discussing the substances that would be exempt from the bill, asking how the government would decide which substances would be covered, and who they would consult when making a decision.

Lords also asked what the penalties should be for possession of a controlled drug, and how the police would enforce stop-and-search powers outlined in the bill.

Lords committee stage day one: Tuesday 23 June

Members of the Lords spoke in detail about a number of areas of the bill, they began by asking whether there should be a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, this proposed change to the bill went to a vote with 98 for and 316 against, so the change was not made.

Members also discussed subjects including the use of cannabis for medical purposes, how the impact of similar legislation in the Republic of Ireland could be assessed and the meaning of the term ‘psychoactive substances’.

Lords report stage: Tuesday 9 June 2015

Members discussed the key points of the bill, and focused on a number of areas of debate, including the definition of a psychoactive substance, which substances should be excluded from the legislation, and the key associated criminal offences. Members asked what steps the government would take to reduce sales of substances from outside this country, and warned that the legislation could drive supply routes and outlets underground, and make research more difficult.

Psychoactive Substances Bill summary

The bill will:

  • make it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, import or export psychoactive substances; that is, any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect. The maximum sentence will be 7 years’ imprisonment
  • exclude legitimate substances, such as food, alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, caffeine and medical products, from the scope of the offence, as well as controlled drugs, which will continue to be regulated by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
  • exempt specific persons from certain offences under the bill, such as healthcare professionals, who may have a legitimate need to use NPS in their work
  • include provision for civil sanctions – prohibition notices, premises notices, prohibition orders and premises orders (breach of the two orders will be a criminal offence) – to enable the police and local authorities to adopt a graded response to the supply of NPS in appropriate cases
  • provide powers to stop and search persons, vehicles and vessels, enter and search premises in accordance with a warrant, and to seize and destroy psychoactive substances.

Further information

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