Group of Police Officers

Cannabis is Still Illegal

Is it legal to use cannabis for medical purposes in the UK?

The enormous publicity around medical cannabis over the last few months, has resulted in a great deal of confusion about the legality of using cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes.

With unfounded stories circulating that some police forces have made public declarations that people who grow or smoke small quantities are of no interest to them, and with arrests for possession of cannabis having dropped 46% since 2010, you might think that things had changed and it is now OK to use cannabis for medical purposes. 

The UK is the largest producer of legal cannabis in the world. 99 tonnes were produced in 2016 for medical and research purposes. This amounted to 44% of the world total. We also export 70% of the worlds’ legal cannabis. It might seem we approve of its production and turn a blind eye to possession. However, it is still illegal to for it to be supplied for medical purposes and it is also illegal to grow it for any purpose, including medical, without a license. In fact, cannabis has been and still is completely illegal in the UK since 1971.

This situation leads many sufferers to either buy cannabis on the street, and not know what they are taking, or grow it themselves and risk imprisonment of up to 14 years. But whatever the reason for taking cannabis the fact remains that it is an illegal class B drug and taking it, even for medicinal purposes, risks prosecution for a range of offences including possession and supply[1]

Is the law on medicinal cannabis in the UK going to change?

In July 2018 the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said the rules should be changed so doctors have the option of prescribing cannabis-derived products for certain ailments.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is reviewing the situation but it is crucial to understand that currently nothing has changed and the penalties against cannabis use and possession are the same as they were before public attention was brought to this confusing situation.

If you are in a position where you need to know the law and how it may apply to your situation you should seek advice from a qualified solicitor with expertise in this area.

Adam Law Solicitors can provide an initial free consultation to help you understand your situation and decide what steps you wish to take. Phone us on 0114 256 0111 or use the contact form on this page.


This article is based on articles published in the press and online. The contents of the article reflect those sources and cannot be taken as legal advice.

For further reading please see:

https://www.release.org.uk/law/uks-law-medical-cannabis

[1] Certain very mild derivatives of cannabis are available in the UK as an oil but anything with over 0.05% of the active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)) is illegal.