Legalization Of Marijuana
Legalization of marijuana
Why the new U.K. government needs to legalise and regulate cannabis use
There is an urgent need for a legal cannabis market in the UK, says the Adam Smith Institute’s most recent report.
Cannabis legislation in the UK
May 24th 2017 | by L.P. | Bishop’s Stortford
"The Government strategy is based around three main pillars: reducing demand, restricting supply and building recovery. All three are failing," said the Adam Smith Institute’s report on the disastrous current policies on marijuana consumption. The report from the think-tank Institute proposes to allow the use of the drug under the Government control, which would benefit both the people and the U.K. Treasury.
Worldwide, cannabis is the most highly consumed illegal drug, thus a potential legal market could enrich Government funds, raising between £750m and £1bn in tax revenues annually while reducing criminal justice costs. In fact, the current 1,363 criminals in prison for cannabis-related violations cost taxpayers £50m a year, the report stated. The former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, backing up the report, believes that the only way to "Take back control" is to subtract the £6.8bn worth market from criminal gang’s hands and bring it under the Government’s control.
"A legal market would destroy the drug’s attraction as forbidden fruit and encourage users to ingest cannabis of known strength and quality in ways which will avoid the deadly dangers of smoking." said the former deputy prime minister, backing the report. His statement brings out another aspect where the Government policies have failed. They did not reduce the demand, rather it increased which particularly damaged the poorer members of society whose income is already particularly low to satisfy primary needs. Besides, the policies failed to protect or help both consumers and the people surrounding them in specifics environments such as passive smokers. By legalising and regulating cannabis usage the Government could counter the demand for homogeneous high-potency strains with a range of lower-risk, legal products which would, at the same time, decrease the costs of the treatment sector.
"British politicians need to open their eyes to what is happening in the rest of the world." Mr Clegg stated, referring to several European countries, such as Netherlands, who have successfully decriminalized the drug or in Portugal where they have adopted a lighter approach on cannabis consumption. A report from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis discovered that overall, marijuana consumption among teenagers has decreased by 10% from 2002-2013. This has led the UK Government to push for a more American approach to decriminalization where four more states opened to the legalization of cannabis.
Figure 1: Percentage of harm caused by several different drugs on users and others
As Figure 2 demonstrates, cannabis is a lot less harmful than many other drugs, including current legal ones such as alcohol and tobacco. These numbers back up the statements released by the director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ chapter in California, Dale Gieringer, who said "It’s obvious that the whole concern about youth drug abuse is bogus," . In addition, Mr Clegg also claimed that cannabis is "much safer" than many other legal treatments and that the persistent criminalisation of the drug was "absurd".
Furthermore, the decriminalisation of the marijuana could help medical research significantly. In fact, it has been discovered that proven patients affected by cancer diseases, Parkinson’s syndrome or anorexia can greatly benefit from usage. This could lead to have a better understanding of the medical use of the drug and can help to reintegrate 6.7% of British society, aged between 16 to 59, who consumed cannabis in the past year. At the same time, with a detailed information policy by the Government, it will be possible to create a safe and conscious environment where tragedies like the death of the 21-years-old Rupert Green, son of Lord Monson, would not recur.
Moreover, one of the three main pillars of the Government programme was "building recovery". This reform would ostensibly pursue prevention of the drug rather than rehabilitation of the patients. On the contrary, it would be unrealistic to assume that the legalisation of cannabis would completely eliminate any excessive use, however, it will provide a better plan on how to deal with the problem. Overall, a portion of the money earned through taxation of cannabis should be invested back into public services and increase the life quality of the communities, especially for those who have suffered the most the negative impacts of its use.
In light of this, the Westminster Government needs to realise the necessity of maintaining pace with similar countries, having the courage to make this change. The great support showed by many members of Parliament to this report suggests that the structure is there. In a great moment of confusion and desperation though, people need to have some certainties. These certainties can only be gained through facts and not words. Unfortunately, the previous Government did not succeed in going beyond promises but a new opportunity has been presented to us to convert rhetoric into facts. The 8th of June is Polling Day, upon which the new Government will be elected.