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 maximum penalties for drug possession, supply (dealing) and production depend 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|
Food, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, medicine and the types of drugs listed above don’t count as psychoactive substances.
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 or dealing drugs. Sharing drugs is also considered supplying.
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.
Talk to FRANK has help, information and advice about drugs.