Cannabis in the UK

Among young adults aged 16 to 24, cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in 2016/17 




Cannabis is a Class B drug, carrying sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment for production and supply, and five years for possession. Despite its illegal status, the Government’s approach to enforcing the law is often characterised as a ‘fudge’, whereby the law stands, but the police and courts apply it less stringently. This has allowed criminality to flourish and young people to have near ubiquitous access to high potency ‘street cannabis’.

The Cannabis in the UK campaign considers the consequences of how we currently treat cannabis and explores evidence-based
policy alternatives.


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Cannabis in the uk's

Founding Ideas


The Facts


More than 2m people smoke cannabis in the UK, a figure equivalent to the combined populations of Glasgow and Liverpool. This is almost three times the number of people who consume the next most common illegal drug, cocaine. This means that around 1 in 15 of the adult population currently smokes cannabis — and far more will have tried it at least once in their lifetime.




Recent surveys of confiscated cannabis samples found that over 80% of the UK market is made up of high THC, low CBD ‘street cannabis’.

THC is the chemical in cannabis that produces the pleasurable ‘high’, but increases the risk of dependency and problematic side-effects such as paranoia and psychosis when consumed in high quantities. CBD is the protective chemical in cannabis that mitigates against the negative effects of THC



the illicit UK market

> 80% =





We are working with communities affected by the current legal status and policing of cannabis in the UK. These groups will inform and lead the work of the campaign. Organisations looking to find out more or support the campaign can request a copy of the campaign prospectus below.

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Cannabis in the uk communities include →

Every group will be guided by the lived experience of people who use street cannabis.

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Education & Youth Services

Despite its illicit nature, young people can procure cannabis far more easily than they can alcohol. With such ease of access, it is vital that youth services are equipped to educate about the harms of street cannabis and appropriately signpost them into treatment. 

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Police & Criminal Justice

Organised crime groups are creating massive profits from the illicit drug trade in Britain every year. The proceeds of drug related criminal activity can be later deployed to fund other types of organised crime, the social impact of which can be devastating. 

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Mental Health

We need increased awareness of the adverse impact cannabis can have on mental health and ensure that it is front and centre of policy direction.                                  

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People who have a problematic relationship with cannabis are the fastest growing cohort in treatment. Treatment services are at the forefront of how cannabis policies impact on the UK, their voice is integral to the debate.


We want to give families affected by street cannabis a voice in the formulation of new policies. Thousands of families in the UK are affected by street cannabis and do not know where to turn.

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Public Health

There are well documented risks attached to heavy and frequent cannabis consumption. The central argument for legalising and regulating cannabis is that public health should be leading the response to these risks, rather than the criminal justice system.


More communities to be announced


We Need



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