Law Library

The UKCIA law library contains the full text of the most important legislation governing the use of drugs, including cannabis, in the UK. Please note this information is given for guidance only and should not be taken as authoritative. If you have legal troubles, please do not rely on the information given here for your defence.

Please consult a law professional for any questions on the legislation and interpretation of drug laws!

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
The main Act governing the usage of 'illicit' drugs in the UK. Updated to take into account changes in legislation. (262k)

UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961

UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971

UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988

Human Rights Act 1998
This is the Act which a number of people have been trying to use as a defence against punishment for cannabis possession. Is it compatible with the 1971 MoDA? (86k)

Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001
The regulations banning cannabis from being medically prescribed under any circumstances, despite its proven effectiveness. (164k)

Drug Trafficking Act 1994

2012 Sentencing Guidelines for Drugs Offences in England & Wales

The following related documents may be of more historical interest

US dept of justuce - DEA opinion and recommended ruling, findings of fact, conclusions of law and decision of administrative law judge

English Bill of Rights 1689

Magna Carta

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

European convention on Human Rights




So why is cannabis still illegal?

Up till now, Cannabis has remained illegal for a number of reasons. Firstly in the moral climate professional people found it hard to speak out in case they become associated with drug use and it affected their career. This was especially hard for politicians who feared tabloid outrage and loss of votes.

This was the situation for years but which came to an abrupt end during the Conservative Party conference in Autumn 2000, when the then shadow home secretary, Ann Widdecombe, stood up for her keynote speech which centered around a "clampdown on Cannabis". The speech was torn apart by the media and the police as being out of touch with reality, which it was. The following days saw politician after politician admit they'd used cannabis, things would never be the same again and the threat of a clampdown was kicked into the long grass.

However, there are a number of people who campaign and lobby politicians against cannabis and in recent years the prohibition lobby has been working overtime to regain lost ground. These people may have vested interests in keeping cannabis illegal, such as brewers, drug squad officers, cotton growers, pharmaceutical companies or the criminal suppliers or they may just be loonies. There are also people with honest motives who attack cannabis such as religious moralists, people who have overcome their drug problems and the people who work with them who generally believe that prohibition is in some way "correct". In any case, the debate is still going on.

The situation is slowly changing for the better though. At one time the number of people arguing for change was very small, now the calls are coming from a wider and wider range of people and organisations, not least of all from some senior police officers. The issue of cannabis law reform is still there and very much alive, it's not going to go away.