Synthetic Cannabinoids (Spice, K2)


The law around synthetic cannabinoids is complicated. Most substances belonging to this group are controlled as Class B substances as such the following applies:

  • Class B
  • Schedule 1
  • Possible offences:
  • Possession
    • Maximum sentence – 5 years/fine/both
  • Possession With Intent To Supply
    • Maximum sentence – 14 years/fine/both
  • Supply (including being concerned in supply, conspiracy to supply, aggravated supply and offer to supply)
    • Maximum sentence – 14 years/fine/both
  • Production
    • Maximum sentence –  14 years/fine/both

In practice maximum sentences are rarely used, for more detailed and accurate information go to our sentencing page.

Producers of this group of drugs have altered the chemical structure so that newer products on the market fall out of the scope of the legislation. If this is the case these drugs then fall within the category of 'new psychoactive substances', or what is commonly called 'legal highs', and will therefore be controlled under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.  Under the Act, possession for personal use is not an offence, but the following activities are:

  • Production (including for personal use);
  • Supply or offering to supply;
  • Aggravated supply or offering to supply (near schools, prisons etc. or using someone under 18 as a courier);
  • Possession with intent to supply;
  • Importation;
  • Exportation;
  • Possession in prisons (and other custodial institutions).
  • More detailed information on the Act can be found here.
  • For all offences, the prosecution will have to prove that a substance is psychoactive. Because this is still a relatively new law it is hard to say what will happen when cases come to Court.