There is a lot of discussion now in the UK regarding the drug class of Cannabis, or weed, as it is often called. Is it a Class B drug? Or is it a Class C drug? Furthermore, is weed legal in the UK for personal use? And how much Cannabis can I hold as an individual? Certainly the questions are varied and plenty. So lets clear this all up …
What are Class A, B and C Drugs?
In the UK drugs are classified by law as being A, B or C class drugs, due to the perceived risks in using them. To that end, the class A category contains the hardest drugs such as Cocaine, Heroin and Magic Mushrooms.
Cannabis is a Class B drug
At the present time, Cannabis is a Class B drug as determined by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. For many years Cannabis was only a Class C drug but it’s status was changed by the government in 2008 to that of a Class B drug. Why the change? Well, in 2008, officials were concerned about the effects on mental health of smoking super-strength skunk cannabis. The move was required because of the need to “protect the public” said officials at the time.
In the UK, the use of Class B drugs is strictly controlled by law and being caught with Class B drugs can result in various penalties. For example, if you are caught in possession of cannabis can get you up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Often, being caught with a large quantity of weed could cause the authorities to believe that you are dealing, or selling, the drug. As a result, the penalties for this type of behaviour are much stiffer and a court could give you up to 14 years in prison with an unlimited fine or both. Therefore, even if you were only selling weed to your friends, you could still end up in big trouble!
What about Medicinal Cannabis? is that legal in the UK?
According to the NHS, any form of medication that contains cannabis can be called “medicinal cannabis”. This form of cannabis is legal in the UK.
From the 1 November 2018, it was decreed by the government that expert doctors would allowed “to legally issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines when they agree that their patients could benefit from this treatment”.
The UK government was quick to point out that medicinal cannabis could only be issued by a “specialist doctor” . A normal GP would not be allowed to prescribe “these unlicensed medicines”.
What About CBD Oil or Hemp Oil?
Some types of CBD oil or hemp oil are often marketed and sold online as a form of medicinal cannabis. The NHS states that there is “no guarantee these are of food quality or provide any health benefits”. For this reason, such products can be bought legally as food supplements.
CBD is the non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the marijuana plant. Products that have CBD (cannabidiol) in them are not illegal in the UK, provided they only contain trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. (Note: We are often contacted by people with concern that they may fail a drug test after using CBD oil)
Is Weed Legal in the UK?
One of the reasons why many people believe that weed is legal in the UK is because possession of the drug is treated slightly differently to other drugs by the police and the legal system. As a result, the legal status of cannabis is not straightforward in many people’s eyes.
You Might Just Get A Warning!
First of all, cannabis is exceptional compared to other Class B drugs because it is covered by additional laws. Presently, it is covered by the discretionary warning scheme. This means that a police officer can decide to give you a warning only (which doesn’t give you a criminal record, but it is recorded), so long as three criteria are met:
- Only a small amount of cannabis if found on you and it is for your own personal consumption
- Similarly, you do not have a record for drug activity and it’s the first time that you have been caught with illegal drugs
- Specifically, your attitude is compliant and non-aggressive and you own up to the fact that the cannabis is for your own use only
However, if you are caught again with cannabis the police can give you a fixed-term fee notice. This is an on-the-spot fine of £80 and you would need to pay that before 21 days are up in order to avoid getting a criminal record.
After that, if you get caught again by the police, for a third time, you will be be arrested and escorted to the station.
- Photo by Smoke & Vibe on Unsplash
- Zoom Testing is a leading supplier of Drug Test Kits.
- This post has been updated since its original publication in 2019.