Labour’s plan for Tea and Coffee prohibition

Clearly the result of a poorly thought out clause rather than any deliberate attempt to ban the popular hot drinks, the following amendment (PDF link – page 15, New Clause 2) proposed to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill rather oversteps the mark. It appears those drafting the amendment did not realise that the scary sounding phrase “psychoactive drugs” includes caffeine.

To move the following Clause:—
‘(1) It is an offence for a person to supply, or offer to supply, a psychoactive
substance, including but not restricted to—
(a) a powder;
(b) a pill;
(c) a liquid; or
(d) a herbal substance with the appearance of cannabis

which he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, to be so acting, that the substance is likely to be consumed by a person for the purpose of causing intoxication.

Maybe it’s an attempt to get back at Starbucks for tax dodging, because I’m pretty sure this amendment would put them, and many other similar chains, out of business…

(H/T to Dr Julian Huppert MP and Tom King for pointing this one out!)


  1. “a herbal substance with the appearance of cannabis” – is that anything that looks vaguely weedlike? because some loose teas do, and catnip, and many other ground up green leafy things.

  2. I don’t think it would ban herbal teas or catnip, because people don’t consume those for the purpose of getting intoxicated. Whether it would ban tea and coffee is a grey ara, I think; arguably it would only cap the amount you could supply in a context that suggests immediate consumption, given that the Wiki article seems to imply that caffeine intoxication only kicks in at around 4-5 cups in a single sitting. It does, however, look like a total ban on the sale of alcohol for recreational consumption (medical and industrial uses should be fine), because a single unit of alcohol produces symptoms of intoxication in a person of average body mass. Has someone told the pub industry?

  3. The more serious point here is to highlight what a complete nonsense drugs policy is anyway. It’s OK to consume your morning espresso or your any-time cigarette for its psychoactive effects, but not to consume MDMA under any circumstances. That means Go directly to jail and do not pass Go.

    Ben Wegg: coffee is not consumed “for the purpose of causing intoxication”.

    You speak for yourself, Ben. That’s why I consume it and, I suggest, why the vast majority of people consume it, especially those with a job.

  4. I usually only drink decaffeinated tea or coffee.
    If I, usually by accident, drink a strong cup of non-decaff coffee I actually get a “buzz” out of it, I really feel like I’ve taken a hit of some drug. Since I don’t take anything other than legal pharmaceutical “drugs”, I can’t say what recreational pharma product it’s like. I also get a headache later.

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