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Drug Classifications

Help4Addiction do not judge you, no matter what the nature of your addiction. All information we receive is dealt with the strictest of confidence.

It is true that we all do not agree, at least fully, with the manner in which the law in the United Kingdom criminalises drug users, many of whom have little control over the addiction which has besotted them.

However, drug users are urged to be aware of laws governing your drug habit. Prosecutions and even custodial sentences are not unheard of and for this reason our guide serves to provide often much needed guidance on legal implications drug addiction carries.

The Legal Framework: Way Back in 1971

Relevant legislation classifying drugs into their current carnation was passed in 1971, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The law placed drugs into one of three classes, namely A, B or C.

ABC Wasn’t Just a Michael Jackson Hit

Any drug which sits in Class A is deemed more detrimental to society and the user alike; more so than drugs sitting in Class B or C.

If you are prosecuted under one of the offences linked to Class A drugs, you can expect a harsher sentence than those under Class B or C. See below for sentencing guidelines.

Class C drugs are, according to our lawmakers, less dangerous to society than substances in Class A or B. This rationale is reflected in the sentencing guidelines upon conviction for possession of a Class C drug.

Drugs falling under Class A include (but are not limited to) the following substances:

Cocaine
Heroine
Methadone
Ecstasy
LSD

Any Class B drug which is injected

Drugs under Class B include (but are not limited to) the following substances:

Amphetamine
Cannabis
Barbiturates

Drugs under Class C include (but are not limited to) the following substances:

GHB
Ketamine
Anabolic steroids
Tranquilisers

A Medical Minefield

In addition to the 1971 Act, drug laws in the United Kingdom include the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. The Regulations categorises drugs into five Schedules. The first Schedule sets out drugs with zero value from a medical standpoint, such as LSD. The second to fifth Schedule houses the remaining drugs which fall under the 1971 Act. The Schedule allows illegal drugs falling under Class A, B or C to be legally consumed for medical use. Drugs such as morphine are classified under Class A of the 1971 Act as illegal, but the drug can legally be prescribed and consumed under the 2001 Regulation.

Trafficking Offences

Laws relating to the supply, intention to supply, importation and production of prohibited drugs carry far harsher penalties than those relating to mere possession. A custodial sentence is most certain for supply offences, even for Class C drugs. A custodial sentence will be applied even in the absence of monetary gain arising from the transaction of supply.

Sentencing Guidelines

Under the 1971 Act, the following sentencing guidelines apply whereby one is convicted for offences defined under the Act:

Class A

Possession of a Class A drug is punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment plus an unlimited fine
Supply of a Class A drug is punishable by lifetime imprisonment plus an unlimited fine

Class B

Possession of a Class B drug is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment plus an unlimited fine
Supply of a Class B drug is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment plus an unlimited fine

Class C

Possession of a Class C drug is punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment plus an unlimited fine
Supply of a Class C drug is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment plus an unlimited fine

Offences categories under the Act include:

Consumption
Supply
Intention to supply
Importation
Exportation
Production without a licence
Stop and Search

Under ‘stop and search’ legislation, if police hold a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that you are carrying a substance that falls under the 1971 Act, you will be subject to ‘stop and search’. Evidence found during your search could be used in your prosecution.

Legal Highs

Many of the drugs our patients are addicted to are perfectly legal but cause as much damage as their illegal counterparts.

Alcohol and tobacco kill more people in the United Kingdom each year than all the illegal drugs put together. One does not have to look far in the media for stories relating to ‘designer highs’, each of which claim countless victims each year, particularly among the youth of our Country.


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