Around 2 million people regularly use Cannabis in the UK. Indeed, with its well-documented medical benefits, it is no surprise the campaign for its legalisation is picking up the pace once again. Even Conservatives like William Hague are now calling for its legalisation.
Clearly, its medical benefits are needed to help our NHS. The plight of children such as Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley is evidence of how the medicinal benefits far outweigh the costs of sourcing alternative treatments. Surely by legalising Cannabis, we would be easing the pressure on our Health Service – not to mention an overstretched police force – by permitting its recreational use.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid finally succumbed to growing pressure over the issue. In a statement to the House of Commons, he announced “review” of the medicinal uses for the drug. However, he has ruled out any changes on its recreational use.
This is an error by the government who continue to not look at the facts about drug policy.
Currently, Cannabis is a class B drug despite it being less harmful than tobacco. Cannabis also causes fewer deaths than alcohol. Only 24 people died from Cannabis misuse in 2016, compared to the 7327 who died due to alcohol.
Nearly 1/3 of the population have consumed the drug, and for it to be marked so dangerous that it should be illegal defies fact. The advantages of legalising it goes beyond the truth that there is no need for it to be illegal.
If properly regulated, the legalisation of the drug could create a large windfall in tax revenue. It is reported that Cannabis sales would generate £1bn in extra tax revenue if taxed and sold in a similar way such as that of the state of Colorado. Legalised Cannabis could be sold from licensed single-purpose stores modelled on pharmacies, like the marijuana dispensaries operating in Oregon and Colorado. It would be taxed and regulated by the government and this money could be ringfenced for areas such as healthcare.
As well as generating revenue for the treasury, it would greatly benefit our police force. Whilst the policing of Cannabis has become more lenient in recent years and arrests have fallen by 50% since 2010, forces still waste valuable time pursuing drug-related crime. In 2015, the police arrested 19,115 for cannabis possession and with police numbers at a record low, legalising Cannabis could drastically ease the burden.
Cannabis legalisation could also help reduce crime as a whole. In the USA, for example, states that legalised Cannabis for medical or recreational use saw a 13% drop in violent crime. The reason? Money flows to the government rather than into drug gangs who benefit from the huge demand that criminalisation encourages.
It is well known that revenue generated from the currently illicit drug can often fuel harder crime. But, if Cannabis were legalised this would ultimately cut funds for criminals. We would see an end to the flow of money into criminal hands and instead to the government to be spent in a beneficial way.
The pledge to legalise Cannabis in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto signalled a return to more sensible drug policy, with overwhelming evidence to support the benefits of its legalisation, both the Labour and Conservatives must look to change the nation’s drug policy.