Cannabis is a Class B drug – illegal to have, give away or sell. Possession can get you up to five years in jail. Supplying someone else, including your friends, can get you fourteen years and an unlimited fine. If you are caught with cannabis the police will always take action. If you’re caught with even a small amount of cannabis the police will confiscate the drug and you can be arrested. What the police will do depends on the circumstances and how old you are. Usually, you’ll get a cannabis warning if you’re 18 and over. If you’re under 18, you’ll get a reprimand and your parent or guardian will also be contacted.
The police are more likely to arrest you if: you are blatantly smoking in public and/or have been caught with cannabis before. If you’re under 18, the second time you get caught you’re likely to get a final warning and be referred to a Youth Offending Team. If you’re 18 and over, the second time you get caught you’re likely to get a Penalty Notice of Disorder, which is an on-the-spot fine of £80. This gets logged on the Police National Computer. Regardless of how old you are, if you’re caught with cannabis for a third time it’s likely you will be arrested. If you continue to break the law, you can end up with a criminal record which could affect your chances of getting a job. It could also affect whether you can go on holiday to some countries. The maximum penalty for possession is five years in prison plus an unlimited fine.
Cannabis comes in different forms. Hash is a black or brown lump made from the resin of the plant. It’s quite often squidgy. In the past, this was the commonest form of cannabis in the UK, but this is no longer the case. Much less common is cannabis oil, made by separating the resin from the cannabis plant using various solvents. It is sticky, dark honey-colored oil. Herbal cannabis (grass or weed) is made from the dried leaves and flowering parts of the female plant and looks like tightly packed dried herbs.
Recently, there has been an increased availability of strong herbal cannabis, containing on average 2-3 times the amount of the active compound, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, as compared to the traditional imported ‘weed’. This strong cannabis includes: ‘sinsemilla’ (a bud grown in the absence of male plants and which has no seeds); ‘homegrown’; ‘skunk’, which has a characteristic strong smell; and imported ‘netherweed’. Strong cannabis is grown through processes that can include selective breeding, use of hydroponics and special heating and lighting techniques.