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This briefing is prepared ahead of a General debate on the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  The subject of the debate was nominated by the Backbench Business Committee, and it will be led by Jeff Smith and Crispin Blunt.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the main piece of legislation through which illicit drugs are controlled across the UK. 

There have been calls in recent years for a review and reform of the law in this area.  Supporters of this change state that the law is not working, and a new approach is needed.  They highlight high levels of drug deaths and harms in the UK and call for a more health-based focus of drugs policy, with greater investment in harm reduction policies and treatment.

The Government has said that it supports an evidence-based approach to drugs policy and recognises that urgent action is needed to tackle current issues around drug misuse.  However, it has said that it has no plans to review the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

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