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A ‘cannabis-based medicinal product’ is all of the following - 
  • The product is or contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or a cannabinol derivative
  • It is produced for medicinal use in humans; and
  • It is a product that is regulated as a medicinal product, or an ingredient of a medicinal product.
These products are subject to strict prescription requirements and may only be prescribed by specialist clinicians listed on a register administered by the General Medical Council.  See related links.
If a cannabis product does not meet the requirements above or is not administered through the legal routes such as via prescription, then an individual will commit offences such as possessing, supplying or producing a drug. 


Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas, also known as ‘laughing gas’. 
Nitrous oxide is a Class C drug and it is an offence to possess it unless it can be shown it was possessed for one of the legitimate statutory exemptions. Nitrous oxide has widespread legitimate uses, including in medical, dental, and veterinary settings and those with a legitimate reason for possessing the substance will be exempt from the ban.
However, possession with the intent to wrongfully inhale the substance or to supply to another person for it’s wrongful inhalation is an offence. ‘Wrongful inhalation’ means inhalation for purposes other than medical or dental purposes or of nitrous oxide that has been released into the atmosphere. It includes inhalation for the substances psychological effects and the offence is designed to prevent people recreationally inhaling the substance for this reason. 
The consequences for the offence of unlawful possession could include an unlimited fine, a visible community punishment, a caution and for repeat serious offenders, a prison sentence.
It is also an offence to import, export, produce or supply nitrous oxide where a person intends to wrongfully inhale the substance or where the individual knows, or is reckless as to whether, it is likely that another person will wrongfully inhale it.
There are serious health risks associated with the use of nitrous oxide, heavy use can result in neurological damage and even death due to the risk of falling unconscious and/or suffocating from the lack of oxygen.


Addiction can happen at any age and it is important to talk to a medical professional about it. As such, we would advise that visiting your local GP should be your first step. They will be able to recommend recovery centres and organisations who can offer further help and support.

It is not only illegal drugs that people can become addicted to, some medication such as pain killers and anti-depressants are addictive too.

Please see the following websites in Related Information for further guidance.


Psychoactive substances, previously known as legal highs, are substances with stimulant or mood-altering properties whose sale and use is not banned by legislation regarding the misuse of drugs but is banned under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

Many psychoactive substances were previously legal because they had not yet been assessed for their harm and considered for control under the misuse of drugs legislation, but this did not mean that they were safe and many have been found to have components of illegal drugs. Some people are under the assumption that they are harmless; in reality this is not the case as using these substances can have a serious effect on your health and the number of deaths in connection to them is increasing.

The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 has created offences in relation to psychoactive substances. It is now an offence to:

  • produce a psychoactive substance
  • supply or offer to supply a psychoactive substance
  • possess a psychoactive substance with intent to supply
  • import or export a psychoactive substance
  • possess a psychoactive substance in a custodial institution

The police have powers under the Act to seize and detain such substances in relation to the above offences. The maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment.

See link to website in related information for more details.


If you take drugs and drive you may be guilty of the following offences:
  1. being unfit to drive through drink or drugs;
  2. being over the prescribed limit in relation to the levels of specified drugs in your blood – you can commit this offence even if your driving is unaffected by the drugs.
In relation to both offences, if the police suspect you have been taking drugs and you are driving, attempting to drive or are in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle (offence 1) or a motor vehicle (offence 2) on a road or public place, they have the power to require you to take a field impairment assessment or drug test.
A field impairment assessment consists of a series of tests e.g. touching the tip of your nose with the tip of your finger whilst your eyes are closed, that are designed to see if drugs are affecting your ability to drive properly.
A drugs test uses a specimen of sweat or saliva to detect the presence of drugs. If you – 
  • perform poorly in the field impairment test, or
  • give a positive drugs test, or
  • you fail/refuse to take either test and the police officer suspects drugs,
you can be arrested and taken to a police station.
At the police station, further tests and medical examinations may be carried out and you could ultimately be prosecuted for being:
  1. Unfit through drugs – note there are no lists of specified drugs or set levels in relation to this offence, but the police must prove that you are unfit to drive. Unfit means that your ability to drive properly is for the time being impaired.
  2. Over the prescribed limit in relation to specified drugs – note there are specified drugs and set levels in relation to this offence – see the table below.
 The table below specifies the controlled drugs and, in each case, the limit in blood for the offence of being over the prescribed limit in relation to specified drugs.
Controlled drug Limit (microgrammes per litre of blood)
Amphetamine 250
Benzoylecgonine 50
Clonazepam 50
Cocaine 10
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol 2
Diazepam 550
Flunitrazepam 300
Ketamine 20
Lorazepam 100
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide 1
Methadone 500
Methylamphetamine 10
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine 10
6-Monoacetylmorphine 5
Morphine 80
Oxazepam 300
Temazepam 1000
The units of the thresholds are µg /L or micrograms per litre - it's important to realise that even relatively small amounts of the drugs can put you over the threshold. If you’re caught driving, attempting to drive or in charge of a vehicle with levels of illegal drugs above those shown in the table, you will commit an offence.
Unfit through drugs – in charge defence
It is a defence for a person to prove that at the time they are alleged to have committed the offence, there was no likelihood of them driving the vehicle while unfit. However, in determining whether there was such a likelihood, the court may disregard any injury to them and any damage to the vehicle.
Over the prescribed limit in relation to specified drugs – medical defence
It’s a defence for a person to prove that the:
  • drug was provided for medical or dental purposes;
  • drug was taken in accordance with any directions given by whoever prescribed the drug and in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions; and
  • possession of the drug immediately before taking it was not unlawful.
Over the prescribed limit in relation to specified drugs – in charge defence
It’s a defence for a person to prove that at the time they are alleged to have committed the offence the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of them driving the vehicle whilst the proportion of the specified controlled drug in their blood remained likely to exceed the specified limit for that drug. However, in determining whether there was such a likelihood, the court may disregard any injury to them and any damage to the vehicle.
If you’ve been prescribed medication that contains any of the drugs listed in the table or if you are unsure about whether your medication contains any of these drugs, you should talk to your doctor/dentist/health care professional about whether it's alright for you to drive – you can still drive after taking the medicinal drugs listed in table if:
  • you've been prescribed them and are following medical advice on how to take them;
  • they aren't causing you to be unfit to drive, even if you're above the specified limits.
Note that the police cannot give any advice on the dosage that would put you over the specified limits or how long after taking a drug you must wait before you a safe to drive. The reason for this is that there are just too many variables, everyone metabolises drugs differently and factors such as your height, weight and what you have had to eat will all play a part.
The penalties for drug driving are:
  • A minimum of a one year driving ban
  • An unlimited fine
  • Up to six months in prison
  • A criminal record


Part 2 of Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 specifies the drugs which are classified as Class 'B' drugs.  Cannabis and cannabis resin are Class ‘B’ Drugs (controlled drugs).  It is an offence to possess, supply or produce these controlled drugs.  
In England and Wales, a first offence for possession of cannabis could attract a warning or a penalty notice for disorder, however, any aggravating factors are likely to lead to an arrest and prosecution.
The maximum sentence on conviction for possession in a magistrates' court is a penalty of three months imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding £2,500. In a Crown Court, the maximum sentence is five years imprisonment and/or a fine. A conviction of production and/or supply of the drug can carry a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.
It is worth noting that these are only proposed penalties. It does not necessarily mean that a first offence for possession will certainly be met with a warning. The Crown Prosecution Service could, depending on the circumstances, decide to prosecute a first time offender for possession of a small amount of the drug.
For information on ‘cannabis-based medicinal products’, please see FAQ What is a ‘cannabis-based medicinal product’?


It is important that, if possible, you make a note of all the vehicles involved and any descriptions of the suspected drug dealers in terms of their appearance. All of this information then needs to be passed onto your local police force via their non-emergency number 101, by online reporting mechanisms or through the Crimestoppers link in Related Information.

Please do not put your own or another's personal safety at risk. The police will investigate the incident using the information provided. It is likely that the Police will not attend immediately as they will need to gather evidence from other sources so that a successful prosecution can be brought.


In the first instance it might be worth speaking to your friend/child in a calm and understanding manner. There is often not a lot that a parent or friend can do without professional help unless the person themselves is willing to admit that they have a problem. The organisations listed in the Related Information will be able to offer support and help you take the right approach.


Please contact your local authority who will have the facilities required to dispose of the needles safely. If there are a large amount of needles appearing on a regular basis, please contact your local police force who will pass the information onto their drugs team.

Do not pick any needles up yourself as you may be injured and at risk of infection.

See the website in Related Information to find your local authority.

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