Drugs and the Law

PROGRESS can guide you to the UK Home Office website address to access information about drugs and the law, another option may be to access the Release website link below

Drug laws

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

The maximum penalties for drug possession, supply (dealing) and production depend on what type or ‘class’ the drug is.

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.

Possessing drugs

You may be charged with possessing an illegal substance if you’re caught with drugs, whether they’re yours or not.

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.

For further information please follow the link below


Release is the national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law - providing free and confidential specialist advice to the public and professionals. Click here

Progress - National Consortium of Consultant Nurses in Dual Diagnosis & Substance Use