Withdrawal of proposed changes to Misuse of Drugs Regulations

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Over recent months, the proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations could have caused a huge disruption to the UK sign making, display and print industry, as the formulations of ink contain traces of Gamma Butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 Butanediol (BDO). Under the suggested amendments, these would be required to have a controlled drugs licence.

The ACMD recommended that GBL and 1,4-BD be placed in Schedule 1 to the 2001 Regulations and further recommended the removal of an exemption from the 2001 Regulations that makes it lawful to possess, produce, supply, import and export GBL and 1,4-BD in certain circumstances, meaning that legitimate industrial users would require a controlled drugs licence. These changes were reflected in The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2021 (S.I. 2021/1427) (“the 2021 Regulations”) which is due to come into force on the 15 June 2022. However, because evidence has emerged that the impact on legitimate business will be larger than had been estimated in the impact assessment accompanying the 2021 Regulations, the government is now exploring ways to mitigate the impact on industry.


Since the above was published on the Government website, there has been extensive discussions between Government representatives and print industry bodies, and the Home Office has now scrapped the planned change, and will look to develop an alternative licensing requirement to achieve the same goal of protecting the public.

The lobbying on behalf of the print and chemical industries was led by the Graphics and Print Media Alliance, which consists of print industry bodies including the BPIF, IPIA and Picon, and the Alliance of Chemical Associations (ACA).

As a result, we have recently received the following update from our ink suppliers:

We can advise that Government Ministers have agreed to revoke the 2021 Regulations without replacing them immediately. This means that in England, Wales and Scotland no business will require a licence for these substances on 15th June, when the 2021 Regulations were otherwise due to come into force

For further information and updates please refer to the Government website.

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