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Drugs and the law

Different laws and regulations are in place for the possession and supply of illegal drugs

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 sets out the penalties that apply to using and supplying different drugs.

The drugs are split into classes: A, B, C, and new psychoactive substances (‘legal high’) based on how serious the penalties associated with handling, supplying and using that drug are.

Class A: heroin, LSD, ecstasy (MDMA), cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, magic mushrooms and any drug from Class B that has been prepared for injection

Class B:  amphetamines, cannabis, ketamine, cathinones such as mephedrone and forms of man-made cannabis

Class C:  benzodiazepines (diazepam), khat, GHB, GBL and anabolic steroids

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) /Legal highs: Nitrous Oxide, Bath Salts

The punishments

The punishment for a criminal offence involving any one of these drugs takes into account the class of the drug, the number of previous offences on the person’s record and their character.

Sentences for crimes involving Class A and B drugs are normally more serious than for Class C drugs.

The maximum penalty for possession of a Class C drug is 2 years in prison or a fine, or both. The maximum penalty for supplying a Class C drug is 14 years in prison or a fine, or both.

Although some substances are referred to as ‘legal highs, the Psychoactive Substances Act was passed in 2016 and means that it is illegal to produce, supply or import all classes of drugs. A person found guilty of an offence under this act could face a prison sentence, fine, or both.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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