The different kinds of illegal drugs are divided into three different categories, or classes. These classes (A, B and C) carry different levels of penalty for possession and dealing.
The Misuse of Drugs Act is the main piece of legislation covering drugs and their categorisation in the UK.
Penalties for possession and dealing
Class A Ecstasy, LSD, heroin, cocaine, crack, magic mushrooms, amphetamines (if prepared for injection). Up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine or both. Up to life in prison or an unlimited fine or both.
Class B Amphetamines, Cannabis, Methylphenidate (Ritalin), Pholcodine. Up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine or both. Up to 14 years in prison or an unlimited fine or both.
Class C Tranquilisers, some painkillers, Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Ketamine. Up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine or both. Up to 14 years in prison or an unlimited fine or both.
All of the drugs on the list above - whether Class A, B or C - are designated as controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and using them is illegal.
Class A drugs are considered to be the most likely to cause harm.
The Misuse of Drugs Act states that it is an offence to:
possess a controlled substance unlawfully
possess a controlled substance with intent to supply it
supply or offer to supply a controlled drug (even if it is given away for free)
allow a house, flat or office to be used by people taking drugs
Penalties for supply, dealing, production and trafficking
The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.
Penalties for possession
The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.
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