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Drugs

Class A, B and C drugs

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 (new window) is the main piece of legislation covering drugs and their categorisation.

Penalties for possession and dealing

Possession: 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

The punishment is serious

Drug trafficking attracts serious punishment, including life imprisonment for Class A offences.

To enforce this law the police have special powers to stop, detain and search people under the 'reasonable suspicion’ that they are in possession of a controlled drug.

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