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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (c.38)

648.The amendment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is one of a number occasioned by the new approach to money laundering adopted in the Act. Part 7 of the Act establishes a number of new money laundering offences, applicable to benefit from all criminal conduct. The new offences replace the separate drug money laundering and non-drug money laundering offences in the existing legislation.

649.In the existing legislation, drug money laundering offences are defined as “drug trafficking offences”. The classification of a particular offence as a drug trafficking offence has a number of practical consequences. For example, a confiscation hearing must be held where a person appears for sentence in the Crown Court for a drug trafficking offence. Because there is no longer such a thing, following the changes made by the Act, as a drug money laundering offence, the definition of a drug trafficking offence no longer includes drug money laundering offences.

650.The expression “drug trafficking offence” does not only appear in the confiscation legislation. It also appears, for example, in section 27 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which empowers the courts to make a forfeiture order following a conviction for “a drug trafficking offence”. Because the definition of a drug trafficking offence, as amended by the Act, will no longer include drug money laundering offences (which will no longer exist), section 27 of the 1971 Act will no longer apply to drug money laundering offences. The consequential amendment of section 27 makes this clear. However, the change is not expected to have any practical effect, as there is other legislation in place which achieves a similar effect to section 27.

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