Drugs Penalties

You can get a fine or prison sentence if you:

  • take drugs
  • carry drugs
  • make drugs
  • sell, deal or share drugs (also called ‘supplying’ them)
 
The penalties depend on the type of drug or substance, the amount you have, and whether you are also dealing or producing it.
 

Types of drugs

The maximum penalties for drug possession, supply (selling, dealing or sharing) and production depend on what type or ‘class’ the drug is.
 
Class:A
Drug:Crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone, methamphetamine (crystal meth)
Possession:Up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
Supply and production:Up to life in prison, an unlimited fine or both
 
Class:B
Drug:Amphetamines, barbiturates, cannabis, codeine, ketamine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones (for example mephedrone, methoxetamine)
Possession:Up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
Supply and production:Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
 
Class:C
Drug:Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines (diazepam), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), piperazines (BZP), khat
Possession:Up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both (except anabolic steroids – it is not an offence to possess them for personal use)
Supply and production:Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
 
Class:Temporary class drugs*
Drug: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
Possession:None, but police can take away a suspected temporary class drug
Supply and production: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.
 

Psychoactive substances penalties

Psychoactive substances include things like nitrous oxide (‘laughing gas’).
You can get a fine or prison sentence if you:
  • carry a psychoactive substance and you intend to supply it
  • make a psychoactive substance
  • sell, deal or share a psychoactive substance (also called supplying them)
Psychoactive substances:Things that cause hallucinations, drowsiness or changes in alertness, perception of time and space, mood or empathy with others
Possession:None, unless you are in prison
Supply and production:Up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
 
 
Food, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, medicine and the types of drugs listed above do not count as psychoactive substances.
 

Possessing drugs

You may be charged with possessing an illegal substance if you are caught with drugs, whether they are yours or not.
If you are under 18, the police are allowed to tell your parent, guardian or carer that you have 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
 

Cannabis

Police can issue a warning or an on-the-spot fine of £90 if you are found with cannabis.
 

Khat

Police can issue a warning or an on-the-spot fine of £60 on the first 2 times that you are found with khat. If you are 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 drugs (dealing, selling or sharing).
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.
 

More information

Talk to FRANK has help, information and advice about drugs.
 
For further information: