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Drugs and 'legal highs'

Drugs can affect people in many different ways. Users, relatives or friends of users, dealers, or those forced to be involved with drugs against their will, will have all experienced the destructive effects of drugs.

The information below shows the different reasons for arrest around drugs. 

Classification and penalties

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 categorises drugs under three classes; A, B and C. It is an offence to:

  • Possess a controlled substance unlawfully
  • Possess a controlled substance with intent to supply it
  • Supply or offer to supply a controlled drug (even if it is given away for free)
  • Allow a house, flat or office to be used by people taking drugs.

Penalties for possession and dealing

Class  Drug type  Possession  Dealing 
Ecstasy, LSD, heroin, cocaine, crack, magic mushrooms, amphetamines (if prepared for injection).  Up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine or both.  Up to life in prison or an unlimited fine or both. 
Amphetamines, Cannabis, Methylphenidate (Ritalin), Pholcodine.  Up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine or both.  Up to 14 years in prison or an unlimited fine or both. 
Tranquilisers, some painkillers, Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Ketamine.  Up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine or both.  Up to 14 years in prison or an unlimited fine or both. 

Psychoactive substances

New laws on psychoactive substances, often called ‘legal highs’, were brought in in May 2016.

These types of drugs are often sold under brand names like ‘Vertex’, ‘Spice', ‘Mary Jane’  and some have been linked to cases of poisoning, emergency hospital admissions and, in some cases deaths.

Find out more