Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) (1916)

Publication Year: 

Text retrieved from on August 24th, 2013.


Passage of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) - a piece of emergency wartime legislation - undebated in Parliament.

Under DORA regulation 40b, the possession, distribution and sale of cocaine and opium were controlled under the authority of the Home Office. This control, obtained under emergency conditions, was to be retained, setting a precedent of treating drugs as a criminal matter and a threat to national security.

Though the circumstances perhaps warranted the move, and the emphasis was on ensuring the availability of medicinal drugs when needed, these restrictions drew on several years of growing 'anti-narcotic' posture closely related to that which was simultaneously becoming established in the United States.