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marijuana in the uk

Drugs penalties

You can get a fine or prison sentence if you:

  • take drugs
  • carry drugs
  • make drugs
  • sell, deal or share drugs (also called ‘supplying’ them)

The penalties depend on the type of drug or substance, the amount you have, and whether you’re also dealing or producing it.

Types of drugs

The maximum penalties for drug possession, supply (selling, dealing or sharing) and production depend on what type or ‘class’ the drug is.

Drug Possession Supply and production
Class A Crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA ), heroin, LSD , magic mushrooms, methadone, methamphetamine (crystal meth) Up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both Up to life in prison, an unlimited fine or both
Class B Amphetamines, barbiturates, cannabis, codeine, ketamine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones (for example mephedrone, methoxetamine) Up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
Class C Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines (diazepam), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB ), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL ), piperazines (BZP ), khat Up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both (except anabolic steroids – it’s not an offence to possess them for personal use) Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
Temporary class drugs* Some methylphenidate substances (ethylphenidate, 3,4-dichloromethylphenidate (3,4-DCMP), methylnaphthidate (HDMP-28), isopropylphenidate (IPP or IPPD), 4-methylmethylphenidate, ethylnaphthidate, propylphenidate) and their simple derivatives None, but police can take away a suspected temporary class drug Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both

*The government can ban new drugs for 1 year under a ‘temporary banning order’ while they decide how the drugs should be classified.

Psychoactive substances penalties

Psychoactive substances include things like nitrous oxide (‘laughing gas’).

You can get a fine or prison sentence if you:

  • carry a psychoactive substance and you intend to supply it
  • make a psychoactive substance
  • sell, deal or share a psychoactive substance (also called supplying them)
Psychoactive substances Possession Supply and production
Things that cause hallucinations, drowsiness or changes in alertness, perception of time and space, mood or empathy with others None, unless you’re in prison Up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both

Food, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, medicine and the types of drugs listed above do not count as psychoactive substances.

Possessing drugs

You may be charged with possessing an illegal substance if you’re caught with drugs, whether they’re yours or not.

If you’re under 18, the police are allowed to tell your parent, guardian or carer that you’ve been caught with drugs.

Your penalty will depend on:

  • the class and quantity of drug
  • where you and the drugs were found
  • your personal history (previous crimes, including any previous drug offences)
  • other aggravating or mitigating factors

Cannabis

Police can issue a warning or an on-the-spot fine of £90 if you’re found with cannabis.

Police can issue a warning or an on-the-spot fine of £60 on the first 2 times that you’re found with khat. If you’re found with khat more than twice, you could get a maximum penalty of up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Dealing or supplying drugs

The penalty is likely to be more severe if you are found to be supplying drugs (dealing, selling or sharing).

The police will probably charge you if they suspect you of supplying drugs. The amount of drugs found and whether you have a criminal record will affect your penalty.

More information

Talk to FRANK has help, information and advice about drugs.

The penalties if you are caught taking or dealing drugs – drug classification, fines and prison sentences

Will cannabis be legalised in the UK, where are you allowed to smoke weed and which celebrities support legalisation?

You could still face a maximum five years in jail for possessing cannabis – but a campaign to decriminalise the drug has been gaining momentum in recent times

  • Ellie Cambridge
  • lauren fruen
  • Danny De Vaal
  • 11 Oct 2018, 17:49
  • Updated : 11 Oct 2018, 17:51
  • Ellie Cambridge
  • lauren fruen
  • Danny De Vaal
  • Invalid Date,

CELEBRITIES, politicians and experts have backed calls to decriminalise the booming cannabis industry.

But will the regulations around the drug be relaxed in the UK and where in the world is it already legal?

Will cannabis be legalised in the UK?

Currently anyone found possessing cannabis can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine or both punishments under UK legislation.

Supplying or producing the class B drug can land people in prison for a maximum of 14 years an unlimited fine, or both.

There has long been an argument to legalise the drug to help people with chronic pain and anxiety.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform says tens of thousands of people in UK already break the law to use cannabis for symptom relief.

The issue was debated on October 12, 2015, and closed after the government responded by saying: “Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health.

This week, UK parliament will be debating the issue again, after a proposal that the drug should be partially legalised for medicinal purposes.

In 2018 a boy suffering from severe epilepsy was allowed to receive medicinal cannabis oil after the Home Secretary Sajid Javid intervened.

Billy Caldwell began using cannabis oil in 2016 to control and reduce the frequency and severity of his seizures.

On June 19, Javid told the House of Commons he was launching a review into how marijuana is regulated for medicines.

However, he ruled out any moves to legalise cannabis for recreational users despite a call by top Tory William Hague to end the “war on drugs”.

Restrictions and laws for medicinal use of cannabis and cannabis oil will be relaxed on November 1.

Which celebrities support the legalisation of drugs?

Celebrities have also added their names for legalisation with Russell Brand, Sir Richard Branson and Sting all arguing for regulation to be relaxed.

Rapper Professor Green has made a documentary for the BBC entitled Is It Time To Legalise Weed? at the end of which he argues rules should be relaxed to improve safety.

Singer Paloma Faith has said people should be allowed to grow their own cannabis so they know it is pure.

She said, according to Metro: “I think people should be able to smoke weed. Grow it in the garden, then it’s much nicer and not laced with anything.

“You won’t end up in hospital because you smoked something dodgy.”

Another supporter is John Huffman who created a synthetic and extremely potent drug Spice while studying how cannabis affects the brain.

In the run up to the 2017 General Election, the Liberal Democrats announced plans to legalise the drug for sale on the high street.

The policy made them one of the first political parties to fight an election on the ticket of relaxing drug laws.

Think tank the Adam Smith Institute has said £750million to £1bn could be generated in taxes if the drug was regulated like tobacco or alcohol.

Criminal justice savings would also add up, with 1,363 offenders currently in prison for cannabis-related crimes at a cost to the taxpayer of £50million a year.

What have scientists now said?

Researchers say that naturally occurring compounds in the plant can block the blood supply to tumours and stop the spread of cancer cells.

Scientists claim that phytocannabinoids — the main compounds in cannabis — can stimulate systems in the human body that are responsible for functions of the brain, endocrine and immune tissues.

Previous research has shown cannabis compounds can help lessen the side-effects of anti-cancer therapies, such as nausea and sickness.

Is medicinal cannabis available on prescription yet?

Medicinal cannabis will be available on prescription from next month, the Home Secretary announced today.

Doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis products to patients from November 1.

The new rules apply to England, Wales and Scotland, Sajid Javid said in a written statement.

It follows several high-profile cases, including young epilepsy sufferers Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil.

In order for a cannabis product to be considered medicinal it must meet three requirements: it “needs to be a preparation or product which contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or a cannabinol derivative; it is produced for medicinal use in humans and; is a medicinal product, or a substance or preparation for use as an ingredient of, or in the production of an ingredient of, a medicinal product”, according to Mr Javid’s statement.

You could still face a maximum five years in jail for possessing cannabis – but a campaign to decriminalise the drug is gaining momentum and is being backed by a number of famous faces.