Illegal drugs are divided into 3 classes – A, B or C as per the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. These classes are based broadly on the resulting harms to society or user when they are abused.
The drug class determines the maximum penalty a user will suffer for an offence that the drug was involved. For instance, the penalties for Class A drugs are the most severe since they are most likely to result in the most serious harm. It is illegal to possess, produce, sell or give away any drugs that are controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act.
- Class A drugs consist of: cocaine (together with crack), ecstasy (MDMA), heroin (diamorphine), magic mushrooms, methadone and LSD.
- Class B drugs consist of: barbiturates, amphetamines, cathinones (including mephedrone), codeine, synthetic cannabinoids and cannabis,
- Class C drugs include: anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines (tranquilisers), ketamine and GHB/GBL,
Every drug isn’t illegal, however, they can still be harmful. For instance, alcohol and tobacco could result in serious health problems. New drugs that produce ‘legal highs’ have been made to ape illegal drugs effects such as ecstasy and cocaine, however, are different enough structurally so that they don’t fall into the class of an illegal drug as outlined in the Misuse of Drugs Act. Even so, the drugs could still produce harmful side effects.
Certain drugs have an actual use like in medicine, scientific studies or in industry. Home Office provides licenses for those who want to use, produce or import these drugs.
|Class||Drug||Possession||Supply & Production|
|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|
|B||Amphetamines, barbiturates, cannabis, codeine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones (e.g. mephedrone, methoxetamine), ketamine||Up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both||Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both|
|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||Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both|
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This post was originally published in December 2018.