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Drug Classification


The 1971 Act (amended through the Criminal justice 2003 Act, which came into effect in 2004) divides drugs into three classes depending on the degree of harm deemed attributable to each drug. In turn the maximum penalties for being convicted of an offence under the Act are fixed according to the class of drug.

The drugs which are deemed most harmful are in class A and those deemed least harmful are in class C. Within each class, penalties are highest for trafficking offences and lower for possession.

Maximum penalties

Offence Type of trial Class of Drugs
  A B1 C
Possession Summary2 6 months and/or up to £5,000 fine 3 months and/ or up to £500 fine 3 months and/ or up to £200 fine
Possession Indictment3 7 years and/or
unlimited fine
5 years and/or
unlimited fine
2 years and/or
unlimited fine
Trafficking4 Summary2 6 months and/or
up to £5,000 fine
6 months and/or
up to £5,000 fine
3 months and/or
up to £500 fine
Trafficking Indictment3 Life and/or unlimited fine 14 years and/or
unlimited fine
14 years and/or
unlimited fine
  • Any class B drug in injectable form is treated as a class A drug.
  • Tried before a Magistrates court.
  • Tried before a Crown court.
  • Includes supply, offer to supply, production, import and export. The same penalties apply to allowing premises to be used for supply. Unauthorised import or export is prohibited by the Misuse of Drugs Act but is an offence under the Customs and Excise Management Act, so fines on summary conviction
    can reach three times the value of the goods seized.

Selected list of controlled drugs

Drugs are listed in alphabetical order of their non-proprietary name. Common trade (or proprietary) names of those marketed for medical use in the United Kingdom are given in brackets.


Drug Schedule 1986 Regulations Class (1971 Act amended through the Criminal justice 2003 Act)
Amphetamine 2 B
Amylobarbitone (Amytal) 3 B
Barbiturates 3 B
Benzodiazepines 4 C
Butobarbitone (Soneryl) 3 B
Cannabis and cannabis resin 1 B
Chlordiazepoxide (Librium) 4 C
Cocaine 2&5 A
Codeine (Actifed, Phensedyl) 2&5 B
Dexamphetamine (Dexedrine) 2 B
Dextromoramide (Palfium) 2 A
Dextropropoxyphene (Distalgesic) 2&5 C
Diazepam (Valium) 4 C
Diethylpropion (Tenuate) 3 C
Dihydrocodeine (DF 118) 2&5 B
Dipipanone (Diconal) 2 A
Fentanyl 2 A
Flurazepam (Dalmane) 4 C
Glutethimide 2 B
Heroin 2 A
Levomethorphan 2 A
Levomoramide 2 A
Lorazepam (Ativan) 4 C
LSD, lysergamide 1 A
Meprobamate (Equanil) 3 C
Methadone (Physeptone) (EDDP) 2 A
Methaqualone 2 B
Methylamphetamine 2 B
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy) 1 A
Methylphenidate (Ritalin) 2 B
Morphine 2&5 A
Nitrazepam (Mogadon) 4 C
Opium, medicinal 2&5 A
Opium, raw 1 A
Oxazepam (Serenid) 4 C
Pentazocine (Fortral) 3 B
Pentobarbitone (Nembutal) 3 B
Pethidine (Pamergan) 2 A
Phenmetrazine 2 B
Phentermine 3 C
Psilocin and related compounds, found in Liberty Cap mushrooms 1 A
Quinalbarbitone (Seconal) 2 B
Temazepam (Euhypnos) 3 C
Triazolam (Halcion) 4 C

Maximum penalties under the law:

Possession 2 years in jail and/or an unlimited fine
Supplying/dealing: 14 years in jail and/or an unlimited fine
Possession with intent to supply: 14 years in jail and/or an unlimited fine

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