Knowledge Base

Here you will find useful research resources on the issue of "drug equality".

Hansard: Misuse of Drugs Bill and related parliamentary debates (full text)


Hansard refers to the official transcripts of the UK Parliamentary debates from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords - it provides valuable insights into the intention behind legislation from the drafting of Bills, to the passage through Parliament and the final enactment before it is brought into law. We have collated into a single document all the debates relating to the enactment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 dating from 1970 and 1971. We believe that these debates (and the analysis of the Act itself), reveal that the current administration of the Act runs contrary to the wishes of Parliament, particularly with respect to the monumental failure to implement and adhere to a rapidly responding evidence-based system of drug control.

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The Parliamentary Etymology of the Terms "Illegal Drugs" and "Legal Drugs"


The terms "illegal drugs" and "legal drugs" have over time become increasingly embedded in the semantics of the language of prohibition. These terms are commonly used by the media and the general public in debates relating to drugs, but more importantly, they are increasingly used by the Government in relation to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Eg. The Government believes that "the classification system under the Misuse of Drugs Act is not a suitable mechanism for regulating legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco" Cm 6941). However, the terms "illegal drugs" and "legal drugs" do not appear in the text of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, rather certain "dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs" are declared "controlled drugs". It is therefore an error of law to assume, as the Government does, that all drugs included in the Act become automatically "illegal" and therefore "prohibited" for non-medical or non-scientific uses. Their erroneous and persistent belief that the Act classifies and regulates "illegal drugs" means that the Act is not perceived as being a suitable mechanism for regulating substances which the majority do not want prohibited, such as alcohol and tobacco. This causes the Government to arbitrarily exclude alcohol and tobacco, inventing spurious reasons as to why these dangerous drugs are so special as to escape the Act's controls.

It is crucial to bear in mind that drugs are inanimate objects which cannot be "legal" or "illegal" in themselves, rather it is human activities in relation to some drugs which are subject to certain legal restrictions or controls. The term "illegal drugs" therefore hides the fact that it is people and not drugs which are subject to legal restrictions, so dehumanising "drug prohibition" and completely concealing the fact that this effectively amounts to an Orwellian "War on Consciousness". This results in people being treated unequally for their preferences in mind states produced by drugs other than those preferred by the majority. For this reason the Drug Equality Alliance uses the term "controlled drug" rather than "illegal drug", as it is legally consistent with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which in our firm belief is a suitable mechanism for regulating a legal commerce in all "dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs" for any peaceful use or purpose.

The following documents log the historical progression of the terms "legal drugs" and "illegal drugs" over the course of the first twenty uses of each term in Parliamentary debates, illustrating how these terms that were once used rarely have now become the default terminology:

Part 1: The Parliamentary Etymology of the Term "Illegal Drugs" (PDF)

Part 2: The Parliamentary Etymology of the Term "Legal Drugs" (PDF)

Drug Classification: Making A Hash Of It? - Follow-Up Hm Government Evidence Session With Annotations By The Drug Equality Alliance


The document below, annotated by the Drug Equality Alliance, illustrates the confusion caused in the minds of rational intelligent people when a Government minister insists on the "illegality of certain drugs" (Cm 6941 page 18). Vernon Coaker MP insists repeatedly and wrongly that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 classifies "illegal", and therefore prohibited, drugs; and because alcohol and tobacco are believed by the masses to be "legal" drugs or substances, the Act cannot possibly be a suitable mechanism for regulating them. Once you understand that the Act regulates humans and not drugs this document makes for interesting reading, highlighting the Government's ignorance of an Act that they have a duty to administer consistent with its purpose – to prevent, minimise or eliminate the harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem that may occur via the consumption of any and all dangerous or otherwise harmful substances that alter mental functioning (including alcohol and tobacco).

Drug Classification: Making A Hash Of It? - Follow-Up Hm Government Evidence Session With Annotations By The Drug Equality Alliance (PDF)

Drug Discrimination


Drug discrimination is the unequal treatment of those involved with equally harmful drugs. The following is a collection of essays and other papers submitted by contributors which look at various aspects of this often ignored form of discrimination, focusing primarily on legal issues.

All files are in Microsoft Word format: