Legal status of marijuana in the united kingdom

Legal status of marijuana in the united kingdom
Luke Sumpter

Medical marijuana is legal in Britain, but only in pharma form. Outside of that the raw plant is illegal for medical and recreational use.

Could the Brits move forward on canna-reform soon? Sure they could. That said, they seem to be rather more concerned about Brexit at the moment. As a result, the land of Marmite, tea and the Queen is not likely to pass any real reform soon. And that is something you can even take to the bookie.


Medical use is in fact legal in the United Kingdom. There is a catch. Bud cannabis is not legal as a prescription drug. There are only two legal forms of cannabis-based medicine available. British-manufactured Sativex and a synthetic called Nabilone.

Further, UK-based patients are not allowed to travel out of the country to buy cannabis and bring it back into the country.

Despite a huge interest in and support for medicinal cannabis, patient access is highly limited.


Cannabis for recreational purposes remains illegal in the UK. Cannabis is very popular here and used in all layers of society. For that reason, and because reform has stalled so often, activists are taking reform into their own hands.

There is a network of cannabis social clubs. Ostensibly their purpose is to educate and inform the public. That said, there are some groups who also help maintain illicit grows. Membership in these clubs does not protect individuals from prosecution of drug crimes.

The recent attempts to regulate the low THC, CBD industry by the government could be the first sign of real reform. However it could also not be.

Even though it’s not very hard to find good quality weed, that usually has even been grown locally, it is illegal to possess, grow or sell cannabis. It is classified as a class B drug. This means that penalties for dealing or trafficking could get you up to 14 years in prison. You could also face an unlimited fine. Even more exciting? In some cases they could throw both at you.

If you are caught with pot, you are likely to be punished with anything from a warning to a prison cell. This depends on how much you have, what you appear to be doing with it, and previous offenses. Generally, a first time possession offense of one ounce or less will result in a police record and no fine.

Despite occasional harangues and windy speeches in Parliament, for the moment, the answer is no. However, the country hosts one of the oldest commercial cannabis pharmaceutical companies in the world. Medical will continue to proceed here. The rest is anyone’s guess.


There are many to support. NORML UK is one of them. Support for reform here is loud, noisy and not going away. You can also join one of the many cannabis social clubs.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter

Luke has worked as a cannabis journalist and health science researcher for the past seven years. Over this time, he’s developed an advanced understanding of endocannabinoid system science, cannabis phytochemistry, and cultivation techniques.