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Exploring The Legality Of Weed In The UK

Exploring The Legality Of Weed In The UK

Is weed legal in UK? If this is what you are looking for, then you have come to the right place. Here in this article, we will discuss some of the most important aspects concerning the legalization of cannabis and its usage in the United Kingdom. 

History Of Legality In The UK

History Of Legality In The UK

The United Kingdom has been mostly anti-weed for a while now. This apprehension towards the substance has been deeply rooted in the culture of the Brits. As of now, cannabis is widely regarded as a Class B drug. However, funnily enough, back in the early 2000s, the UK government showed some restrained prejudice towards the substance and reformed the drug laws to make things more flexible, but it did not last long. 

Before 2004, cannabis usage and possession were not at all encouraged by the UK government as it was classified as a Class B drug nationwide. But, things took a turn for good when in 2004, Cannabis was classified as a Class C drug with comparatively lesser severe penalties. But fast forward to 2009, the legal status of cannabis was again revoked to the status of a Class B drug. Hence, if you ask, ‘Is weed legal in UK?” The answer is an unequivocal yes. 

Currently, after a bill passed in the year 2018, cannabis usage for medicinal purposes was legalized only if the patient can back up the usage with a proper medical certificate from a medical practitioner. This made all the cannabis enthusiasts hope for a mass-scale legalization drive by the government, but till now, that hope is yet to manifest itself into reality. 

Cannabis has been deemed illegal by the UK government since 1928. However, restrictions were looser, and the penalties were minimal compared to the present times. But, with the advent of the hippie culture back in the 1970s, the government felt the need to reform the legality of cannabis and turn the laws stricter and more rigid. 

Still, one interesting fact is that even though cannabis is illegal in UK. Back in the year 2016, a study was conducted that confirmed that the UK was the largest exporter of cannabis at that time. Now, the figures might have shifted. 

Legality In Contemporary Time

Legality In Contemporary Time

Currently, after a legislation passed in November 2018, it is legal in the UK to consume cannabis if you do it for medicinal purposes. Naturally, people assumed that this was the next step towards full-scale legalization of marijuana and hemp.

In fact, citizens of the UK who were in dire need of CBD-based medications accused the government of taking a fake stance regarding the possible legalization. So let us look at how the government is handling the drive in different aspects and see is weed legal in the uk? 

Medical Usage

Medical usage

By law, if you produce, supply, possess, or cultivate cannabis products under the guidelines set forth by the government, then you are not breaking any laws. However, if your product does not keep up with the stringent measures set forth by the government, you are in violation of cannabis laws and can be charged with equivalent penalties. The UK Home Office sets forth these guidelines and can be looked up on their respective website to have a more accurate idea.

As for the penalties, there are variations. Like for example, if you are found in possession of cannabis without the proper license issued by the UK Home Office, you are liable to serve up to five years in prison and a fine.

Subsequently, the supply and production of cannabis without authorization is punishable by 14 years of imprisonment. Finally, if you are found selling cannabis or products that are based on cannabis, you have to face imprisonment for up to 2 years and pay a hefty fine. 



Even though medicinal usage is legal with stringent measures, things are way worse for recreational usage. Back in the height of the hippie movement that swept across the Western world, cannabis was one of the most popular psychoactive substances that was available to users.

As a result, the UK government felt compelled to criminalize the usage of cannabis in the year 1971 in an effort to stop the ‘misuse.’ The government has not changed this stance since then, and till today it is a criminal offense to consume cannabis or marijuana products recreationally.

The aforementioned penalties ring true for recreational usage as well. In fact, if a medical user fails to provide enough evidence that he or she needs the substance for medicinal purposes, then the person in question would be deemed a recreational user and sentenced to appropriate penalties. 

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Although, hemp or cannabis cultivation is frowned upon by the government, apart from its medicinal usage. If you do get an appropriate license from the Home Office, you are legally cleared to cultivate hemp for industrial purposes.

Again, there are certain markers that you need to keep in mind. You are only cleared to cultivate hemp plants that have a THC content not exceeding the allowed 0.2%. Furthermore, you are not allowed to use the leaves and flowers of the plant for industrial purposes, and you have to destroy them.  

Recent Developments

Recent Developments

As of now, the situation regarding cannabis usage has been quite regulated by the state. The 2018 legislation has decriminalized cannabis usage for medical purposes with the conditions that are discussed earlier in the legality section of this article. But, things look bleak for recreational users as things can get pretty hairy if you are found in possession of unauthorized cannabis or marijuana. 

Final Thought

All in all, cannabis is only legal in the UK if you are somebody who is using it for medical purposes and not for recreational purposes. Hence if you look up, ‘Is weed legal in uk’ the answer is a multifaceted one and cannot be answered in a straightforward manner.

With no effort on the government’s part to decriminalize recreational usage, things are more concerning for cannabis enthusiasts. Still, given the benefits of cannabis are studied religiously across the world, the new chapter of cannabis decriminalization might not be as far as we think it to be.

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