CTM have focused on the issue of Cannabis: should it be legal?
Given the life-destroying nature that drugs both legal and otherwise can have, the issue of legalization is an understandably touchy subject. Speaking from a British perspective, the row over making cannabis legal isn’t as prominent over here as it is in places like the United States, where some states have chosen to decriminalise and subsequently commercialise weed through government approved dispensaries. This relatively liberal attitude towards weed is not mirrored over here in the UK, where cannabis is currently classified as a Class B drug. To put that in perspective, if caught in possession of cannabis you are able to face the same penalties as someone caught in possession of ketamine, amphetamines, or un-prescribed codeine, all arguably more dangerous drugs than weed.
The issue was last brought up in the British press after former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg backed a report that recommended legalising cannabis in the UK, arguing that the decriminalisation of the drug is ‘now inevitable’. A report by the Daily Telegraph suggested that a legal, taxed and regulated cannabis market in the UK could potentially be worth around £6.8 billion, money that this country sorely needs to be invested back in to hospitals and schools, especially as we prepare to leave the safety net of the European Union.
Arguments against legalisation are often rooted in the worry that making drugs readily available will create more addicts, however this viewpoint seems to work under the assumption that it will be a free market, instead of a strictly regulated and taxed industry, similar to the tobacco or alcohol trade. Legalisation would not mean that drug dealers would be free to sell their wares on the streets without fear of persecution – many drug advocacy groups point to the current cannabis market in North America as a basis for how it can be put in to practice responsibly. In the US, anyone wishing to set up a cannabis dispensary must apply to the government for a special license, customers must be over eighteen, and the growing, production, and transportation of the produce is strictly regulated and quality controlled to prevent dangerous strains being available to the public.
Not only could the taxation of the drug help to add more money to Britains coffers, but it would also help to ease the strain of our prison system, with around 1,350 people in prison for cannabis related offences. Handing out criminal records for cannabis possession can lead to a vicious cycle that prevents people from being able to find employment, possibly then leading to crime and more drug use.
Cannabis has often been referred to as a ‘gateway drug’ and may encourage consumers to try harder, more harmful drugs, however it can be argued that the same is true for alcohol – people harm themselves by drinking every day and there are very few actual laws in place to prevent this. There are of course health risks when it comes to cannabis but these are not much different to smoking regular tobacco, which is legal.
A valid area of concern with legalising cannabis is the issue of driving under the influence. Police now have the ability to test drivers for cannabis at the roadside, which makes catching those driving under the influence of drugs easier to convict, however they have to have a reason to pull those people over in the first place. If cannabis is more readily available it stands to reason that the number of people driving under the influence will also rise. However, you could argue that just with alcohol, it is up to consumer to be responsible with their use, and the regulation of the industry will help prevent cannabis being sold to people who have proved themselves to be irresponsible with it.
In summary, cannabis use is prevalent in the UK, and it will be whether the drug is legal or not. As long as it will be sold, as long as people want to smoke it, it makes sense to at least ensure that it is done properly, responsibly, and to the greater benefit of everyone.