Categories
BLOG

is weed legal in england

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

Why legal weed in Britain may be a pipe dream

While public interest is growing, experts say a mix of political and social factors is holding back change

In the UK, legalization is not as urgent of an issue as it is in the US. Illustration: George Wylesol/THE GUARDIAN

In the UK, legalization is not as urgent of an issue as it is in the US. Illustration: George Wylesol/THE GUARDIAN

Last modified on Tue 11 Jun 2019 02.43 BST

The legalization of cannabis in the US shows no signs of slowing down – but the prospect of a green rush in the UK, experts say, is “bleak”.

The consultancy Hanway Associates aims to facilitate the growth of a European cannabis industry. This month, the group is hosting the Cannabis Europa conference in London, but its CEO, George McBride, does not expect drastic change anytime soon.

According to a 2018 survey commissioned by the drug policy thinktank Volteface, which has ties to Hanway, 59% of the British public supports cannabis legalization. But the political dynamics that have made legal marijuana all but inevitable in the US are absent in the UK.

In both countries, there are racial discrepancies in drug enforcement. However, the aggressive and widely despised police tactics associated with America’s “war on drugs” never took hold in Britain, nor did they contribute to mass incarceration and other life-ruining consequences for perpetrators.

Second, as McBride and his colleague Alastair Moore note, the UK hasn’t experienced an opioid crisis, or the subsequent disillusionment with mainstream pharmaceuticals and the medical field. Nor is there an entrenched constituency of veterans suffering from PTSD, concussive brain injuries and other ailments, which have led to a desperate search for alternatives.

While the British public is interested in medical marijuana, and CBD is advertised on many high streets in particular, there does not seem to be any significant constituency eager to implement a for-profit industry on a large scale. And there is not an industry-funded medical marijuana lobby insisting on the issue’s urgency.

Last year, Charlotte Caldwell, a Northern Irish mother, arrived at Heathrow from Canada with her son Billy, a 12 year-old who has a severe seizure disorder, and cannabis oil she acquired to treat him. When authorities confiscated the medicine, it led to a public outcry, and within weeks the UK had legalized medical marijuana for a very limited number of patients. It was the biggest cannabis story in Britain since the scare about high potency “skunk” weed in the 1990s. But it hardly galvanized the country to legalize it for everyone.

Experts say the prospect of a green rush in the UK is ‘bleak.’ Illustration: George Wylesol/THE GUARDIAN

Public support for legalization in the UK is “broad but not deep”, McBride said. In other words, it’s not an issue that decides how people vote. The same can largely be said for the Trump-era US, but the political levers American legalization supporters have wielded so effectively don’t really exist in the UK. In particular, there’s no equivalent of the state referendums which have been crucial to legalizing in many of the states that have legalized medical marijuana and almost all of those that have legalized the drug for recreational use.

Finally, one of the most effective arguments for legalizing in the US is that it makes more sense to regulate and tax the drug, rather than allow lawless cartels to control it. Thus far, US marijuana taxes have not brought much money into state coffers, but the argument appeals to the American mind.

In the UK, however, legalization actually polls lower when you ask about taxing it. McBride and Moore attributed it to skepticism towards business, coming both from the left and the protectionist right. The specter of violent drug traffickers doesn’t loom as large in the British imagination.

Still, major social developments in the US usually reach Britain somehow. I suspect a combination of social and corporate pressure could eventually change minds. Within two or three years, as attractive cannabis cafes become more familiar in Chicago, Boston and California, and more professional Americans incorporate cannabis into their lives, more Brits will become curious, not to say envious. As that happens, growing cannabis companies will start looking for effective arguments to persuade the public in Britain and other countries. Until then, they’ve got their hands full trying to turn a profit in North America.

While public interest is growing, experts say a mix of political and social factors is holding back change