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weed 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

Is it legal to smoke weed at home? UK cannabis laws explained

  • 3 Jun 2019, 20:07
  • Updated : 5 Nov 2020, 8:44

CANNABIS use is a hotly contested topic the world over – but what are the rules in the UK?

Here we explain the laws surrounding smoking weed, and if it is ok to do it in your own home.

Is it legal for people to smoke cannabis if it’s in their own home?

Cannabis, marijuana or weed is classified as a Class B drug, putting it in the same category as ketamine and amphetamine.

Just because someone is using the drug within their own premises doesn’t make it legal.

And the pungent, slightly floral smell of someone smoking cannabis is often hard to disguise and most people won’t want the stench creeping over into their gardens or homes.

Despite specialist doctors being granted the ability to prescribe cannabis oil on November 1, clinicians say the prospect of legalising smokeable marijuana is unlikely.

How is cannabis classified and what are the penalties?

At present, it is a class B, with very limited exceptions.

You can get up to two years in prison for possession of cannabis.

But the penalty for possession would be up to five years in prison if it is decided that there was an intent to supply

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

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

If I call the police, will my neighbours find out it was me who dobbed them in?

No. Police will never give away a caller’s identity and your neighbour will not be informed that a complaint came from a neighbour.

A police spokeswoman said that officers might also use tip-offs to advise where they go on patrol.

Then, if the officers were to smell cannabis themselves, they might knock on the door and investigate that way.

The resulting punishment for the user depends on many different variables including how much cannabis the smoker is in possession of and whether they’ve been caught with it before.

If you are caught with the drug cops can issue an on-the-spot fine if you have less than one ounce.

Where is it legal to smoke weed?

There are a number of countries where you can smoke weed without getting into trouble.

Canada, some parts of the US and within size limit in Mexico it is all ok.

Belize, Jamaica and Argentina are also ok with the use of the drug.

Uruguay, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Australia all have decriminalised possession of cannabis.

How is cannabis classified and what are the penalties?

Cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell in the UK, according to the Home Office.

Being caught with cannabis comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

While being convicted of producing and supplying the Class-B drug carries up to 14 years behind bars, an unlimited fine, or both.

Police can issue a warning or on-the-spot fine if you’re caught with a small amount – generally less than one ounce – if it is deemed for personal use.

Where is weed smoking legal?

Weed has been legalised for personal use in a number of countries, including Norway, the Netherlands and Portugal, which decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001.

Recently it has also become legal for medical and recreational use across much of the United States, with California the most recent state to allow it for recreational use.

In 2018 Canada legalised cannabis for recreational use, only the second nation to do so.

Campaigners have highlighted the potential health benefits of cannabis, but only when used in moderation.

Is it illegal to smoke cannabis in your own home in the UK and what can you do if your neighbours are smoking weed