marijuana laws 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


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

Marijuana in England

Possession of cannabis is illegal in this country and may entail imprisonment plus financial penalties. No cultivation is even contemplates therapeutic purposes.

Although cannabis possession is illegal, the authorities can only warn if it is the first time they meet a person with marijuana. But if the police find someone repeat, this can lead to imprisonment of up to five years, although rarely usually apply this penalty. But caution, if you have cannabis with intent to sell, the penalty can be up to 14 years in prison. In practice, this sentence rarely occurs as strict as it would, for example, being caught selling 200 kilos of cannabis.

Sativex, a spray with extract of cannabis.

As it regards the cultivation of cannabis also condemns a maximum penalty of 14 years and unlimited fines. The law specifies that it can take into account extenuating circumstances in cases of medical necessity, and in practice, imprisons very few individuals with serious medical conditions to cultivate small amounts for medical use.

The only company licensed to produce cannabis drugs is GW Pharmaceuticals, which grows 20 tons of cannabis annually and uses it to produce Sativex spray cannabis extract. But it is not available in the UK, but only in some places. Some UK doctors have prescribed cannabis to people traveling to other places in Europe to buy cannabis legally prescribed. However, despite existing laws in the European Union, the Ministry of Interior has prohibited residents of the UK can enter the UK with medicinal cannabis legally obtained elsewhere.

Both consumption and possession of soft and hard drugs are illegal in the UK, including possession for own consumption.

GW Pharmaceuticals, a company licensed to produce cannabis drugs

Are frequent arrests of Spanish citizens as a result of possession of drugs for personal consumption. Three-quarters of Spanish prisoners in British jails serving sentences for drug trafficking. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that lately there has been an increase in arrests of young Spaniards of both sexes, especially during holiday periods, which generally do not result in felony charges constituent subject to deprivation of liberty although in arrests police station where they remain to go before a judge.

Possession of soft and hard drugs are illegal in the UK

The arrests are generally from other issues such as theft, possession and consumption of drugs (including so-called soft drugs in Spain, such as cannabis). So keep this in mind if you’re traveling to this country.

If arrested, you have the right to ask the British authorities to put you immediately contact the Consul of Spain. The Spanish consulate may notify the detention to their families if the detainee so wishes, to visit regularly give and receive messages and correspondence. What the Spanish embassy or consulate can not do is, in case of arrest, guarantee better treatment than that accorded to nationals of the country, nor, of course, will pay the fines.

Cannabis in politics

British MPs discussed the issue of cannabis only a few months ago (in October 2015) following a request for legalization that collected more than 220,000 signatures. But the British Home Office confirmed that it had no plans to change the legalization of cannabis, which is considered illegal drug class B.

Hundreds of young people gathered in Hyde Park, London, to demand the legalization of marijuana. (PHOTO: EFE)

All aforementioned must also frame it in the study made ​​by the British Treasury in which was said that regulating marijuana market would generate significant tax revenues and lead to an overall saving of the criminal justice system. The study also said that more than 2 million people aged 16-59 believed they used cannabis in 2014 and a total of 216 tons were consumed.

Hemp is legal

Hemp cultivation (seed, oil and fiber included) is legal in the UK. Hemp is used for the production of food, cosmetics and fibers used for automotive, construction and textile industries. Of course, the producer must have a license issued by the Ministry of Interior.

Hemp House in England

In this country it is legal to buy and having any kind cannabis seeds, but nevertheless, the law prevents seeds germinate and cultivate cannabis of any kind without a license.

A year without a driving license

Police stopped in the town of Huntingdon once a driver for going too slowly and after an inspection, police discovered he was under the influence of marijuana.

Therapeutic cannabis oil

The driver admitted the charges and released, but the penalty imposed was the withdrawal of his driving license for one year. His blood THC level was above the permitted level. The man was arrested at 2 am on one of the main streets of the city that was traveling at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour in an area where the speed limit is 50 kilometers per hour. When he was arrested he was immediately made ​​a test substance as a driver, the citizen was charged with driving under the influence of cannabis. His passport was withdrawn for one year and also had to pay a fine of 230 euros.

On the other hand, a woman who grew cannabis to extract oil to combat the illness of her husband who was close to death was sentenced to community work for 18 months after a judge accepted that had not cultivated cannabis to market with it. At least, this woman who only wanted her husband did not suffer, could save her from imprisonment. But, as we see, the penalties in the UK do not forgive nor such cases.
By Noelia Jiménez, Team Piensa En Verde

Possession of cannabis is illegal in Engalnd and may entail imprisonment plus financial penalties. No cultivation is even contemplates therapeutic purposes.