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Drug categories and the law
05 Mar 2021

It is important to understand the charges you may be faced with if you happen to be arrested and charged with drug offences. You are entitled to request your charge sheet, which will be a formal declaration of what offence or offences you have been charged with and is a good place to start informing you legal defence. We have a range of solicitors experienced in different aspects of the law and we will pair you with a criminal solicitor who has the expertise to defend you, who is uniquely experienced in the charges that have been placed upon you.

Drug law and drug charges

In the UK, we divide drug charges first by the substance in question and then by the intent of the possessor of the prohibited substance. A small quantity of even a class A drug found in the possession of a drug user is unlikely to result in a prison sentence, but the intent to supply a class C drug can warrant an unlimited fine and 14 years’ internment.

The CPS’s (Crown Prosecution Service) stand on drugs is to treat users as victims in need of treatment, not in need of prosecution and dealers as a priority to be pursued to the full extent of the law. Our criminal solicitor can help you navigate your way through this.

Possession with intent to supply

If there is an intent to supply, the penalty may be varied and based on the volume of the substance but also ‘baggies’, concealed packaging or paraphernalia, as well as precise weighing scales and cash from recently completed sales. There may also be statements from drug users stating that they bought the drugs from you. If found guilty, you can expect up to 14 years in prison depending on the scale of the supply and size of the proceeds of crime. Questioning these grounds is one of the roles of our criminal solicitor.

Class C

Class C drugs are considered to be of the least harm, many of them are prescription-only medications with abuse potential. These include anabolic steroids, GBH, ketamine, tranquilisers and some painkillers.

Possession of a small number of Class C drugs (which are likely for personal use) is unlikely to result in more than the confiscation of the drug and a police caution. The exception would be GHB or ketamine at a nightclub if there are grounds to suspect that they were being used for drink spiking.

Class B drugs

By far the most common Class B drug is cannabis which was added to the category in 2009. There is also amphetamines, codeine and methylphenidate (Ritalin) in this classification.

Class B possession can result in a 5 year maximum sentence, but it is unlikely to be prosecuted. Possession with intent to supply has an associated sentence of 14 years in prison.

Manufacturing of a Class B drug, or in the case of cannabis, its cultivation is a breach of the Misuse of Drugs Act and is usually charged along with an intent to supply. It also has a 14 years maximum sentence, but it is more common to receive the maximum sentence than if you are just charged with intent to supply by itself.

Class A drugs

Class A drugs are treated the most seriously under UK law and include cocaine, ecstasy and heroin. Possession is unlikely to result in prosecution if you are a user, but you will have to attend a rehabilitation programme. Possession with the intent to supply has a maximum of life imprisonment.

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