The law and marijuana

According to UK law marijuana is categorised as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It was originally a Class C drug but was reclassified to a Class B drug due to recommendations made by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

They had reviewed evidence about the damage caused by marijuana to physical and psychological health.

(Source: DrugScope 2000-2010)

Class B drug

What does this mean?

It means that it is illegal to own, give away or sell marijuana to others which includes friends and/or family.

If you are stopped by the police and they find marijuana on your person then they will take action. They will confiscate this and arrest you for possession and/or intent to supply.

Possession of marijuana

The action the police take will depend upon your age and the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

If you are under 18:

  • If this is your first offence then you will receive an official warning rather than be charged and your parents or guardian will be notified of this.
  • If you are stopped for a second time then you will be given a final warning and be referred to a ‘Youth Offending Team’.
  • If you are stopped for a third time then you will be arrested

If you are over 18:

  • You will be given a warning
  • If you are stopped for a second time then you will be issued with an on the spot fine for £80 and a ‘Penalty Notice of Disorder’.
  • This information will be logged on the Police National Computer database.

Whatever your age if you are caught with cannabis for the third time then you will be arrested.

Further arrests will mean imprisonment which has far reaching consequences. It can mean losing your job and/or finding it difficult to obtain another; breakdown of your relationship; losing your family/friends; unable to travel to certain countries and many other effects.

A criminal record is not to be taken lightly.

The maximum penalty for possessing marijuana is 5 years imprisonment plus a fine.


Supplying marijuana

Supplying or dealing marijuana is a serious offence which includes both supplying drugs to friends as well as strangers.

Anyone who grows marijuana at home or has it on their person is liable to be charged with intent to supply.

The maximum penalty for supplying marijuana is 14 years imprisonment with a fine.


Driving whilst under the influence of marijuana

This is another serious offence and one that is viewed in the same light as drink driving.

If you are caught driving whilst under the influence of marijuana then it can mean disqualification from driving for a period of time. It will also mean a hefty fine and possible imprisonment.


Using marijuana as a pain reliever

There are people who use marijuana as a medicinal aid (‘medical marijuana’) in order to treat the symptoms of a chronic condition, e.g. multiple sclerosis.

However, this is against the law. If you or someone you know does this then they can be arrested for this. This is classed as possession which is illegal in the UK.

Campaign to legalise cannabis (marijuana)

There has been support especially amongst young people for the legalisation of cannabis. Plus increasing support for GP’s to be able to prescribe marijuana (cannabis) as a remedy for the treatment of various medical conditions, e.g. arthritis.

But this campaign has its detractors as well.

Campaign slogans such as ‘legalise cannabis’and ‘free the weed’have become popular with people of all ages who support the decriminalisation of cannabis (marijuana).

Young people support this campaign as do older people who were hippies back in the 1960’s and used cannabis (marijuana) as part of that scene.

The main argument is based upon personal choice with supporters citing reasons of civil liberties and opponents arguing about the potential dangers of cannabis (marijuana) and the costs to society as a whole.

Basically, one side argue that cannabis (marijuana) is a relatively harmless drug which people choose to take and as adults, are aware of the consequences of doing so. They argue that there is evidence to show that cannabis was used throughout history as a herbal remedy, and is proven to have benefits for many well-known conditions.

However, the other side argue that cannabis (marijuana) use can lead to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. They also argue that marijuana can have devastating consequences for not only the user but their families and society.

Pro-cannabis (marijuana)

Supporters of legalisation argue that marijuana is no worse than alcohol and that it is a matter of personal freedom and choice. Adults should have the final say about what they choose to take and that as long as it does not infringe upon another person then they should be allowed to do so.

Supporters also argue that legalising it would reduce drug related problems and crime.

Anti-cannabis (marijuana)

Opponents claim that this is an illegal drug and should remain so like many other drugs.

They argue that it causes physical and mental damage and can wreck lives. It can lead to family breakdown, loss of confidence and motivation and crime.

Marijuana can lead to an addiction which costs time and money for not only the sufferer but their family and society as a whole.

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