It's hard to believe that we live in a time where the U.K has stricter cannabis laws than the U.S, the very same U.S that famously declared a war on drugs over four decades ago by their former President, Richard Nixon. With an estimated five to six million cannabis users in the U.K alone and rising, it's clear to see that this is a war that can never truly be won and this approach is creating more of a problem than a solution. Rather than being a war on cannabis, it's simply a war on people.
Before I begin, I'd like to make it clear that I myself am not a cannabis user (I rarely even drink alcohol these days) but there are many economic benefits for legalisation. The employment alone it would create with shops, cafes, farming and factories would give the U.K a whole new job sector industry to harvest. As with other controlled substances like alcohol and tobacco (which are proven to be the most harmful known drugs, however strangely not only legal but socially acceptable?), cannabis could also be taxed. With the NHS currently struggling, wouldn't this be an obvious solution and hopefully avoid the greedy grasp of privatisation? Another way the country could significantly benefit is through tourism, Amsterdam has attracted people from all over the world for its tolerant attitude and pioneering take on legislation policies.
Prohibition of any substance creates an instant black market for organised crime networks to thrive in. Legislation would take this money away from the criminals and also reduce other lesser crime such as theft, as illegal cannabis can be purchased or traded with stolen goods. Making cannabis legal would save the police force both time and money which is surely something that we can all agree is a real need with major budget cuts announced recently over the next five years. We would have more police officers on the streets protecting the public, solving real crimes with faster response times.
The main media focus at the current time of writing this article is the mental health dangers of 'skunk', this is due to this particular strain of cannabis having a high THC and low CBD levels. The potency and quality of illegal cannabis is always going to be a gamble to the user, if it was regulated though then safer known varieties could be made available to the public instead. But what about the health dangers of popular legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco? It is estimated that yearly alcohol related deaths in England and Wales vary from 5,000 to 40,000 and for tobacco around 114,000. Cannabis deaths however are unheard of and any mention on death certificates will be due to other substances being found in their system also.
Legalising cannabis isn't about saying let's all go nuts and become drug addicts, it's about education, awareness and simple common sense. It's as easily available in today's modern society as buying a loaf of bread from the shops and usage is only going to get worse, with already one in five people in Britain living in poverty due to financial inequality, where there is a depression there is always a need for an escape. How many people do you know alone that smokes or has smoked cannabis? I'd genuinely be surprised if you said none. It's time we stopped criminalising innocent people and find out why they are self medicating in the first place. If we live in a society where everyone has to take a substance in order to feel better, then I'd say that society is broken and putting a plaster on it is just not the real solution.