Ignorance can never be used as a viable defence in the face of the law – so to stay on the right side of the law, it is important to know what you can and can’t do. Understanding the law is particularly important when it comes to drugs. In the UK, as with many other countries, drugs can have their classification changed making it difficult to keep up to date with what is and what isn’t allowed with a certain substance.
Marijuana is one drug that has had its classification changed as recently as this millennium, which has led to some confusion over its status and the laws regarding it. Read on for your guide on the current UK laws on marijuana.
Marijuana comes in many different forms. It is available as hash, weed or skunk. All the different types of marijuana are derived from the same type of plant – a cannabis plant – but they have different appearances and potency. Hash looks like a brown or black lump and is made from the resin of the cannabis plant, while weed is made directly from the plant’s dried leaves. Skunk refers to particularly strong strands of weed and is often imported.
Marijuana also has lots of different names, common monikers include dope, draw, pot and ganja – however, it doesn’t matter which form or which name marijuana goes under, in the UK, it is always illegal.
Classification in the UK
Despite being the most widely used illegal drug in the UK, marijuana is a class B substance. As recently as 2004, marijuana had its classification downgraded to a class C drug. This reduced the possible prison sentence for possession of the drug to 2 years. However, with research suggesting that stronger forms of the drug were becoming more prevalent, this decision was reversed only a year later and marijuana returned to the classification it had held since 1928.
Being a class B drug means that if you are caught in possession of marijuana you can face a jail term. The maximum custodial sentence for the possession of marijuana is 5 years. However, in general the penalty for possession of marijuana is a warning, if you’re over 18 and it’s your first offence, and a Penalty Notice for Disorder (an £80 on-the-spot fine) for a second offence. Arrest is likely if you are stopped by the police for your third offence, which could lead to a conviction and criminal record. The steps are similar for someone between the ages 10 and 17, although the police would also inform your parents of what has happened and you may be referred to a Youth Offending Team.
It is also against the law to supply cannabis and supplying it can lead to much tougher punishments. For supplying someone with cannabis you can be issued with a 14-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine. You are considered by law to be supplying cannabis even if you share your marijuana out with your friends – you do not have to sell it to be found guilty in a court of law in the UK. If you are ever in trouble for carrying, be sure to be calm, courteous and seek help from a top law firm. Get a free initial consultation from a lawyer by completing the form at the top right of your screen.
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