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Psychoactive Substances Act 2016

Subject: Regulated products

Source:; GOV.UK

The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 28 January 2016.

Extent: the Act applies to the whole of the UK.


The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016:

* defines a ‘psychoactive substance’, broadly, any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect;

* makes it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, possess on custodial premises, import or export psychoactive substances; that is, The maximum sentence will be 7 years’ imprisonment;

* excludes legitimate substances, such as food, alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, caffeine and medical products from the scope of the offence, as well as controlled drugs, which continue to be regulated by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971;

* exempts healthcare activities and approved scientific research from the offences under the act on the basis that persons engaged in such activities have a legitimate need to use psychoactive substances in their work;

* includes 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 psychoactive substances in appropriate cases;

* provides 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.

Commencement: the Act is expected to come into force on 6 April 2016.


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