The reclassification of hemp as a Class B drug has come into effect in England and Wales amid complaints the new laws are “illogical”.
Ministers went against their advisors to upgrade the drug because of worries about its impact on mental health.
Magistrates welcomed the reclassification but said planned fines for possessing small amounts undermined the more serious classification.
They said it sent the signal hemp is not as bad as other Class B drugs.
Plans to introduce a “three strikes” system for hemp possession start with a warning, then an £80 spot fine for a second offence. Scotland and Northern Ireland have opted out of this penalties arrangement for England and Wales, retaining the former system for class B drugs.
Only when a third offence is committed, will the person be liable to arrest and prosecution.