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Cannabis is now a Class B drug
26 January 2009
Concerns about effects of 'skunk' and the mental health of users lead to the change.
Police can now take legal action against anyone caught in possession of cannabis, as it has been reclassified from Class C to Class B.
Up to five years in prison
First-time offenders caught with the drug will likely be given a warning. Subsequent offences will result in on-the-spot fines of £80. Anyone with three or more offences on their record will face arrest if found with cannabis.
A resulting conviction of possession could result in a maximum of five years in prison and a fine.
Anyone caught selling cannabis could face 14 years in prison. Selling the drug near schools, mental health facilities or prisons will result in stiffer penalties.
The decision is based on health concerns
The government announced its plans to reclassify the drug in 2008.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told MPs in May 2008 that her decision to change the classification of the drug reflected the fact that skunk – a much stronger type of cannabis – now accounts for more than 80% of the UK market.
It's share rose from just 30% five years ago.
At the time she said, 'There is a compelling case for us to act now rather than risk the future health of young people ... I am not prepared to "wait and see".'