Dangerous Drugs Act (1920-1923)

Publication Year: 

Text retrieved from tdpf.org.uk on August 24th, 2013.


1920-Passage of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
1921-Report of Home Secretary's committee to consider outstanding objections to the 1920 legislation.
1923-Passage of the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act.

The 1920 Act implements the Hague Convention in Britain by extending and reinforcing DORA 40b. As well as opium, the Act places controls on tincture of cannabis and preparations containing dyhydrocodeine, and bans cocaine following stories of 'crazed soldiers' in WWI. It also creates the offence of being an occupier of premises permitting the smoking of prepared opium and introduces the offence of performing acts in this country resulting in the commission of an offence contrary to corresponding law abroad.

The Act represents Britain's first formal drug legislation, and solidifies the precedence of the Home Office over the Ministry of Health in the area of drugs policy.

The 1923 Amendment Act continues the punitive emphasis, introducing more severe penalties and imposing stricter controls on physicians and pharmacists. Perhaps most significantly, it expands the search powers of the police.