Penalties for bringing cannabis into the UK

My cousin is flying into Amsterdam where she’ll stay for a few days, then will be taking a ferry to the UK. She wants to bring a small amount (< 5g) of cannabis with her for personal use. I’ve tried explaining why this is a bad idea, but she wants proof. I haven’t found anything concrete online, mostly vague claims (invariably from pro-smoking sites) that it would probably not even be confiscated at the border and that the worst that could happen is an on-the-spot fine. However, the UK customs site clearly states that this is illegal. What penalties could she actually be facing? How likely is a tough sentence (she’s an American)?

(Please note that I am not seeking legal advice, merely information from somebody with better Googling skills than myself. I am also not condoning illegal activities - in fact I hope to prevent one.)

Here’s a link to the British Home Office page on the subject of cannabis.

I’m not aware of any searches that take place when boarding or disembarking ferries when travelling within the EU, because of our lack of borders. Indeed, I’m aware of how easy it is to pass on small amounts of the drug within the UK via the post.

EDIT: To the moderators, I thought on posting that I seemed to be encouraging the OP’s friend with a note on how easy it was to send a small amount of this drug to someone else. Please note that I simply wish to provide a cite and some personal experience :slight_smile:

You can get 14 years for trafficking in cannabis.


Although, I’m not entirely sure whether bringing drugs into the UK would be considered possesion (so punished as Pushkin stated) or trafficking (earning upto 14 years).

Is pot really that difficult to buy here that the risk of imprisonment for smuggling it is worth it?

Customs Searches

Your cousin is being bloody stupid. The chance of being searched may be small but the life consequences immense.

I have no idea how difficult it is to buy and wouldn’t know anybody to set her up with if I were so inclined. I agree that it’s not worth imprisonment, but she thinks I’m making a big deal out of nothing, and that threats of imprisonment are just sensationalism and don’t match the reality.

She’s not worried about being searched and contends that according to people who KNOW the most she’d get is a slap on the wrist. I’d really like to be able to confront her with a few recent cases of people in similar situations being sentenced to prison, but have not been able to find anything.

Through Google and anecdotes I’d be hard pressed to find any examples either.

I would personally doubt she would get in trouble, based on whatever storied I’ve heard from friends and family, but I’m saying that to allay your fears, not to pass onto your cousin.

A slap on the wrist and a big black mark on her record. But stupid is as stupid does.

The trouble isn’t only the probably minor fine she may face if she’s caught. It’s that for the rest of her life, whenever she crosses a border, a customs guard will find her name on a “special” list, and she gets to spend time in a little room with a couple of women wearing nitrile gloves. Depending on how she rolls, that may not be a disadvantage, it’s up to her.

That’s a good point, and one I hadn’t thought of. She hasn’t travelled much in the past but now has several overseas trips planned for the near future and I don’t think she’d want her name on that special list.

I was going to add earlier, that from brief experience, US-UK visa applications have become comically difficult for two allies in the War on Terror. If she ever wants to travel through the UK again or just visit the UK, they may make it much harder for her.

The amount specified in the OP is less than 5 grams. 5 grams equals 0.17636981 ounces. In anybody’s money this is really a very small quantity. Anyone carrying this amount of cannabis into the UK would not be suspected of trafficking. I’ve looked but I can’t corroborate this. I’d be very, very surprised if any penalty other than confiscation would be applied.

On the other hand…

**Moerator’s Note: **

To be clear: The OP seeks information on the penalties for bringing cannabis into the UK. Let’s limit the discussion to the OP instead of ways to do it without getting caught or the like.

Gfactor, General Questions Moderator

She could also simply be refused entry to the U.K. We don’t have to let her in.

Did anyone else read the thread title as “Penalties for bringing cannibals into the UK”?.

But I didn’t know what the penalty was.

Something you have to realize is what happens on paper is not what happens in real life.

Might this not also have an effect on her as a US citizen, where the spinoff of drug war related consequences might be more drastic and longer lasting?

Update: I spoke with my cousing last night, and she agreed not to bring anything into the country (and claimed that she was only playing Devil’s advocate before.) I’m relieved not just for her, but for myself as I would be the one having to arrange for a solicitor, etc. if the worst happened.
Thanks for all the comments.

YOu might land in hot water?