Jump to site navigation [j]



Cannabis is a Class B drug.

The government reclassified cannabis from Class C to Class B in January 2009. The decision was part of the drug strategy: Drugs: protecting families and communities (new window).

Why Class B?

Classing cannabis in Class B reflects the fact that skunk, a much stronger version of the drug, now dominates in the UK. Skunk has swept many less potent forms of cannabis off the market, and now accounts for more than 80% of cannabis available on our streets, compared to just 30% in 2002.

The classification of cannabis means:

  • the government will robustly enforce laws on cannabis supply and possession
  • police and other agencies will work to shut down cannabis farms and arrest the organised criminals who run them
  • the consideration of additional aggravating sentencing factors for those caught supplying cannabis near schools 

Current penalties related to cannabis

Penalties for supply, dealing, production and trafficking

The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

Penalties for possession

The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.

Young people in possession of cannabis

A young person found to be in possession of cannabis will be arrested and taken to a police station where they can receive a reprimand, final warning or charge depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Following one reprimand, any further offence will lead to a final warning or charge. Any further offence following a warning will normally result in criminal charges. After a final warning, the young offender must be referred to a Youth Offending Team to arrange a rehabilitation programme.

This police enforcement is consistent with the structured framework for early juvenile offending established under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Adults in possession of cannabis

Anyone caught in possession of cannabis could be arrested.

Alternatively, police may:

  • issue a warning (primarily for first-time offenders)
  • issue a penalty notice for disorder, with an on-the-spot fine of £80

Find out more

Learn more about cannabis penalties on the Home Office drugs policy website (new window).

See also

Related documents

Other Home Office sites

Home Office websites