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is marijuana legal in uk

Is cannabis illegal in UK and where is weed legal to smoke and buy?

  • 28 Dec 2019, 18:30
  • Updated : 20 Apr 2020, 13:39
  • Invalid Date,

MARIJUANA has been illegal in the UK since 1928 – but will laws around the Class B drug be relaxed?

Here’s everything you need to know about drug laws on cannabis as they currently stand.

Is marijuana illegal in the UK?

Cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute, sell or grow in the UK.

Being caught with cannabis comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

While being convicted of producing and supplying the Class B drug carries up to 14 years behind bars, an unlimited fine, or both.

Police can issue a warning or on-the-spot fine if you’re caught with a small amount – generally less than one ounce – if it is deemed for personal use.

Is it illegal to smoke cannabis in your own home?

Like all drugs in Britain, weed is regulated extremely stringently by the Government.

As the punishments suggest, it’s completely illegal to smoke weed anywhere in Britain – including on your own property.

However, some police forces have taken a more laid-back attitude to the recreational drug, which is believed to be the most popular in the UK.

Prosecution rates for cannabis possession are as low as 15 per cent in Cornwall and Devon, while Durham Police have said they will no longer target recreational users at all.

Is medical marijuana legal in the UK?

Medical forms of marijuana are available over the counter or by prescription in the UK – but it is heavily monitored and regulated.

Doctors were given the go-ahead to prescribe cannabis products to patients from November 1, 2018.

The new rules apply to England, Wales and Scotland, Sajid Javid said in a written statement.

It follows several high-profile cases, including young epilepsy sufferers Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil.

In order for a cannabis product to be considered medicinal it must meet three requirements: it “needs to be a preparation or product which contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or a cannabinol derivative; it is produced for medicinal use in humans and; is a medicinal product, or a substance or preparation for use as an ingredient of, or in the production of an ingredient of, a medicinal product”, according to Mr Javid’s statement.

In July 2019, it was ruled that the NHS could prescribe cannabis-based medicine to treat Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Trials of the drug were carried out at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital on children who were having multiple seizures a day.

Results showed the drug stopped the seizures in many cases and significantly reduced them in others.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency has to be confirmed in two months, but that is expected to be a formality paving the way for the liquid medicine to be available on the NHS later this year for dozens of children affected by the two conditions.

Where is weed legal?

Weed has been decriminalised for personal use in a number of countries, including the Netherlands and Portugal, which decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001.

Canada legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2001. But in October 2018 Canada became the first G7 nation to legalise recreational use of the drug.

In Australia, Puerto Rico, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia and Macedonia it is legal for medicinal purposes.

Some US states have legalised marijuana while others allow it for medicinal use only.

New York state was the latest to decriminalise recreational use in July 2019.

Possession of small amounts of the drug will be punished with fines rather than jail time, a step short of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of legalising pot.

The Liberal Democrats became the first major British political party to support the legalisation of cannabis in March 2016.

How many people in the UK smoke weed?

The use of most drugs has declined in the UK since records began in 1996, according to a 2016 Home Office survey.

It found that cannabis was by some distance the most commonly used drug, with 6.5 per cent of adults aged between 16 and 59 smoking in the previous year.

Weed was also the most popular among those aged between 16 and 24, with 15.8 per cent using it in that same time.

The next popular drug was powdered cocaine.

When did cannabis become illegal in the UK?

Cannabis was banned in 1928.

Its medical use was outlawed in 1971 and growing plants was made illegal in 1964.

Here's everything you need to know about cannabis

Almost half the people in the UK are unaware that Medical Cannabis is legal

By Emily Ledger

Up to half of people in the UK are unaware that medical cannabis is legal in the UK, according to an ongoing poll by Canex. Out of 13,254 respondents, 46% revealed that they were unaware of the 2018 rescheduling which made medical cannabis legal in the UK.

Despite being legal in the UK for almost two years, access to medical cannabis and awareness among the public remains surprisingly low. So, we decided to put together a simple guide of how access to medical cannabis currently works.

Legalising Medical Cannabis

Cannabis was rescheduled (from schedule 1 to schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971) in 2018 to allow for the medical application of the drug. This major decision was largely influenced by the high-profile cases of two children who suffer from rare forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy.

The parents of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley had tried a number of registered epilepsy medications with little success until they discovered the positive effects of cannabis-based medications. However, the legality of these drugs in the UK meant that they had to source medications from abroad.

The rescheduling of cannabis allowed for specialist clinicians in the UK to prescribe medical cannabis products. Following this decision, medical cannabis is now legal for the first time in almost 50 years.

Accessing Medical Cannabis

Despite the rescheduling of cannabis, access to medical cannabis through the NHS remains practically non-existent. Many critics of the current guidelines believe that this is largely down to the restrictive recommendations made by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence in November 2019.

In theory, patients should now be able to access medical cannabis products for a small number of conditions. These include treatment-resistant epilepsy, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. However, NHS prescriptions for medical cannabis products – even for these conditions – remain critically low, if not non-existent.

Medical cannabis clinics, however, have been opening around the nation with the aim of plugging the gaps in patient access. Sapphire Medical Clinics has launched a number of schemes and initiatives over the last couple of years in an effort to aid in the progression of the UK’s medical cannabis sector. These include the Sapphire Foundation which helps to remove financial barriers to patients and the UK Medical Cannabis Registry which collects real-world evidence on medical cannabis prescribing.

Progressing Medical Cannabis Access in the UK

The data collected through our ongoing Canex poll support calls for increased education on medical cannabis – for both medical professionals and the public – in the UK. Despite numerous countries, including the UK, having now legalised medical cannabis, the potential mechanisms of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system is still not taught in medical curriculums.

This has led to a limited number of doctors having sufficient knowledge of medical cannabis and how it could potentially benefit a huge array of conditions. A number of initiatives are now aiming to address this problem, including the Sapphire Institute which provides an online training and up-to-date research on medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis registries like the UK Medical Cannabis Registry and Drug Science’s Project Twenty21, aim to collect the evidence needed to support the progression of medical cannabis prescriptions in the UK.

A Canex poll has fond that almost half (46%) of people in the UK are unaware that medical cannabis is now legal.