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A quick guide to drug penalties in the UK

It is one of the most common things that people in the UK are given a caution for; the taking or possession of drugs. It is also usually the reason why, if you are going through London or another city, you may see police officers with a dog checking people.

But if you have a brief understanding of the law, you’ll note that different types of drugs or substances have different penalties and may also vary depending on whether you are consuming them, selling them or actually making them. Typically, this will also vary if you have been caught in the process of drug dealing or making in the past.

So, in this incredibly simplified guide, you will be introduced to the different classes of drugs under UK law, what the penalties are for possession and the penalties for supplying and production to hopefully give you a bit of insight.

Class A

Class A drugs include crystal meth or methamphetamine, methadone, ecstasy or MDMA, heroin, crack and crack cocaine, and magic mushrooms.

And as any criminal solicitor will tell you, and you can probably guess, this is the most serious class of drugs to be caught with, in your possession or if you are supplying or producing.

If a police officer does find any of these substances on you, you can face up to 7 years in prison and an unlimited fine or potentially both. If you are found to be supplying or producing any of these drugs, then this could be life imprisonment and once again an unlimited fine or both.

Class B

Class B involves drugs such as cannabis, codeine (without prescription), ketamine, synthetic cannabinoids, amphetamines and barbiturates. If they are found on you, and you don’t have a medical prescription, you can face up to 5 years in prison and an unlimited fine. If you are found to be producing or growing marijuana, for example, this can lead to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Class C

Once again, it is worth noting that some of these medications may be on a prescription and are therefore not illegal. However, if you are found to be in possession of anabolic steroids benzodiazepine or gamma-butyrolactone, then you may face up to 2 years in prison (except in the case of anabolic steroids). If you are found to be making these medications and drugs or supplying them, then it can be 14 years in prison.

Temporary class

Then finally, the temporary class of drugs involves methylphenidate substances methylnaphthidate substances and derivatives. The police cannot charge you for possession of these, but can take the suspected drug away and once again, producing or supplying these can lead to 14 years in prison.

There are also psychoactive substances which you can get a fine or prison sentence for if you are intending to supply, make or sell them. These do include things like nitrous oxide and if you are found to be supplying these, it can lead to 7 years in jail.