Classification of drugs in the UK fall into three main categories. These are Class A, B or C. Class A is the most serious, attracting the most serious punishments and fines.
Designation of a drug as controlled falls under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Allocation to a class is depends on the harm caused by the drug.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it is an offence:
- to unlawfully possess a controlled drug
- to possess a controlled drug with intent to supply it
- to unlawfully supply (sell/give/share) a controlled drug
- to allow premises you occupy or manage to be used for the smoking or use of drugs
You can get a fine or prison sentence if you take, carry, make or sell drugs or psychoactive substances. The penalties depend on the drug and the amount you have, and whether you’re also dealing or producing the drug.
Types of drugs
The table below shows the penalties for drug possession, supply (dealing) and production. This all depends on what type or ‘class’ the drug is.
|Class||Drug||Possession||Supply and 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, ketamine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones (eg mephedrone, methoxetamine)||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 (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.
You can also get a penalty for ‘psychoactive substances’, eg laughing gas.
|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|
UK Government for more information about drug possession.
Talk to FRANK has help, information and advice about drugs.