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Is it legal to smoke weed at home? UK cannabis laws explained

  • 5 Nov 2020, 8:30
  • Updated : 5 Nov 2020, 8:40

CANNABIS use is a hotly contested topic the world over – but what are the rules in the UK?

Here we explain the laws surrounding smoking weed, and if it is ok to do it in your own home.

Is it legal for people to smoke cannabis if it’s in their own home?

Cannabis, marijuana or weed is classified as a Class B drug, putting it in the same category as ketamine and amphetamine.

Just because someone is using the drug within their own premises doesn’t make it legal.

And the pungent, slightly floral smell of someone smoking cannabis is often hard to disguise and most people won’t want the stench creeping over into their gardens or homes.

Despite specialist doctors being granted the ability to prescribe cannabis oil on November 1, clinicians say the prospect of legalising smokeable marijuana is unlikely.

How is cannabis classified and what are the penalties?

At present, it is a class B, with very limited exceptions.

You can get up to two years in prison for possession of cannabis.

But the penalty for possession would be up to five years in prison if it is decided that there was an intent to supply

If you’re under 18, the police are allowed to tell your parent, guardian or carer that you’ve been caught with drugs.

Police can issue a warning or an on-the-spot fine of £90 if you’re found with cannabis.

If I call the police, will my neighbours find out it was me who dobbed them in?

No. Police will never give away a caller’s identity and your neighbour will not be informed that a complaint came from a neighbour.

A police spokeswoman said that officers might also use tip-offs to advise where they go on patrol.

Then, if the officers were to smell cannabis themselves, they might knock on the door and investigate that way.

The resulting punishment for the user depends on many different variables including how much cannabis the smoker is in possession of and whether they’ve been caught with it before.

If you are caught with the drug cops can issue an on-the-spot fine if you have less than one ounce.

Where is it legal to smoke weed?

There are a number of countries where you can smoke weed without getting into trouble.

Canada, some parts of the US and within size limit in Mexico it is all ok.

Belize, Jamaica and Argentina are also ok with the use of the drug.

Uruguay, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Australia all have decriminalised possession of cannabis.

How is cannabis classified and what are the penalties?

Cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell in the UK, according to the Home Office.

Being caught with cannabis comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

While being convicted of producing and supplying the Class-B drug carries up to 14 years behind bars, an unlimited fine, or both.

Police can issue a warning or on-the-spot fine if you’re caught with a small amount – generally less than one ounce – if it is deemed for personal use.

Where is weed smoking legal?

Weed has been legalised for personal use in a number of countries, including Norway, the Netherlands and Portugal, which decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001.

Recently it has also become legal for medical and recreational use across much of the United States, with California the most recent state to allow it for recreational use.

In 2018 Canada legalised cannabis for recreational use, only the second nation to do so.

Campaigners have highlighted the potential health benefits of cannabis, but only when used in moderation.

Is it illegal to smoke cannabis in your own home in the UK and what can you do if your neighbours are smoking weed

What are the best ways to get rid of the smell of cannabis?

Cannabis, as we’re well aware, is a flower. One of the primary functions of flowers is to create terpenes, odoriferous chemicals designed by nature to attract pollinators and ward off predators. These pungent compounds can be one of the best and worst parts of enjoying cannabis. The rich smell of fresh, sticky weed can be as intoxicating as the perfume of a long-lost lover.

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How to get rid of weed smell in your house after smoking

Unfortunately, weed smell can also be a dead giveaway that alerts others to your preferably private ritual. And while cannabis may be consumed for medicinal and adult-use purposes throughout the country, federal prohibition continues to govern public perception, which can still trend negative. If you want to be mindful of your neighbors or simply want your cannabis habits to stay under the radar, respect and privacy can be preserved with a few handy tricks to mask the smell of cannabis on your person or inside your home.

The classic approach: Sai baba, satya, nag champa, agarbatti incense

Nag Champa is an incense commonly burnt in ashrams. The scent is neither masculine or feminine and usually contains a mixture of the following ingredients:

  • Champa flower
  • Benzoin resinoid (Styrax tonkinensis)
  • Henna (Lawsonia inermis)
  • Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
  • Indian sandalwood (Santalum album)
  • Vanilla
  • Honey

The classic aroma was transplanted in the west at the end of the hippie trail and has remained a welcome scent for practitioners of yoga, meditation, and cannabis consumption. This is more than a great way to get rid the smell of weed; the incense smoke can also pull double duty to visually mask the cannabis smoke if it’s still lingering.

The hippie approach: Patchouli oil

This aromatic oil is a hippie hallmark and doubles as a great way to mask weed smell. Made from the small pink and white flowers of the patchouli plant, this oil is known for its pleasant, lasting scent and supposed antidepressant and aphrodisiac qualities. Certainly makes sense to me: enjoy a doobie, dab some patchouli behind the ears, smell nice, and make love, not war.

The homemaker approach: Febreeze

A household staple for many Americans living with gassy pets and gassier spouses or roommates, Febreeze is a trigger-action odor eliminator. This is not the end-all, be-all of cannabis smell reduction, but for a fresh scent in a pinch, it’s a solid option.

The toilet bowl approach: Matches with the bathroom fan on

One of the sneakier moves to avoid weed smell on the list, the toilet bowl is an act of desperation at its core. You can’t go outside but you can’t consume inside; it’s a risky move no matter how you slice it. But if you must, bring along stick matches (preferably) and flip the switch on the fan. The combusting sulfur and wood smoke of the stick matches should cover a hit or two and the fan should take care of the rest.

The smoke eliminator approach: Ozium

Ozium is a classic smoke eliminator that every cannabis enthusiast can use. It’s an air freshener with a vanilla and lemon-type scent that literally grabs smoke out of the air and punches it into another realm. While it won’t completely mask the scent, it’s a great base for all of the scents you’re about to throw into the atmosphere.

The air freshener approach: Black Ice Little Trees Car Freshener

Black Ice is one of the most overwhelming scents known to man (and woman). Like, if someone would’ve had Black Ice on their person in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, they’d have had absolutely no chance of getting close enough to catch Blue—because you can seriously smell it from like, eight miles away.

Grab a pack and place them strategically around the area you need to render nug-smells, and with the help of all your aforementioned other scents, it’s guaranteed to be the knockout punch for any remaining cannabis odors.

The last resort: Burnt popcorn

The smell of burning popcorn could make a house fire just smell like another movie night gone wrong. In my experience, few smells mask other odors better and linger in the air longer than an accidentally burnt bag of microwavable popcorn.

But beware! Respect the very delicate balance between burnt for effect and just burning the hell out of it. While the room may no longer smell of cannabis, the fire alarm is literally the loudest signal of domestic failure known to man, and that’s not the perception cannabis needs, either.

Preventing weed smell before and during smoking

Smoking in the shower

Another bathroom consumption method is to smoke your cannabis while the shower is running. Turn the shower to maximum hotness; creating steam is the primary goal here because the smoke smell will dissipate along with the steam being sucked into your bathroom fan. This is traditionally called a “Hawaiian Hotbox.” For some added cannabis odor-masking, place a towel at the bottom of the door or even use a small spritz of your smell-good shower toiletries to replace the smell.

Airtight containers are not hard to come by

A good Tupperware, mason jar, or, if you’re in a pinch, a Ziploc bag inside another Ziploc bag, can really go the distance. There are also other vacuum-sealed containers on the market, like OXO food storage containers, that will work extremely well for storing your pungent cannabis. If you can, get a UV protective airtight container and keep all cannabis plant matter out of both direct and indirect sunlight to preserve its quality over time.

Paper towel or toilet paper roll + rubber band + dryer sheet

It’s that simple—get a toilet paper or paper towel roll, place a fabric softener sheet at the end, and strap it to the roll with a rubber band. The idea is to fill the volume of the roll, so exhale slowly as not to shoot the smoke directly out the other end. Know that cannabis smoke will escape either way, but if done correctly, much of the odor will be diffused.

Buy a smoke filter

Manufactured smoke filters are starting to hit the market. You can try Sploofy—this portable carbon filter is an excellent choice for travelers and cannabis consumers that need to conceal their presence. The Sploofy’s replaceable filter system and nearly magical ability to swallow up enormous clouds of smoke make for potent camouflage on the go or in the home.

Use a vape pen

A vape pen might not completely eliminate the smell of weed, but smoking with a vaporizer will significantly diminish any odors associated with smoking. A decent vape pen is a slightly more substantial investment than an air freshener or popcorn, but it is a more permanent solution to the challenge of minimizing the smell of weed wherever you happen to smoke.

  • There are plenty of vape pens and vaporizer products available online with options available at multiple price points appropriate for a variety of budgets.
  • Vape pens allow you to smoke wherever you want without having to fill the room with air fresheners, turn on all the fans in your house, or burn a perfectly good bag of microwave popcorn that, frankly, never did anything to deserve it.
  • Vape pens aren’t exactly as simple as smoking a joint. Learning to use a vape pen properly means making note of things like your preferred temperature setting and ensuring the battery stays charged and ready for use. Cannabis oil cartridges for vape pens also tend to be more expensive than flower.

How to get rid of weed smell in your hair and on your body

If you don’t want your house or apartment to smell like weed, odds are that you don’t want your breath, hair, or body to smell like cannabis either. Fortunately, there are plenty of products available at just about every grocery store to help mask the smell. When it comes to breath, your best options are a pungent chewing gum, possibly something mint-flavored. Alternatively, you can freshen up that breath by brushing your teeth or gargling some mouthwash. Perfume, cologne, and body spray are excellent options, but it’s important to remember that when it comes to both options, a little goes a long way.

This article was initially published on March 14, 2017. It was most recently updated on March 17, 2020.

What are your go-to weed smell camo techniques? We’ll try out the best suggestions and highlight them in a follow-up!

If you want to be mindful of your neighbors or keep your cannabis habits under the radar, try these tricks to mask the smell inside your home.