In November 2018, medical cannabis was legalised for in the UK. This represents a significant u-turn in official government policy. Previously, the official view of the Conservative party was that cannabis had 'no medical value'. Legal medical cannabis represents a small but significant step.
Currently, Brexit is currently hogging all the debate and resources within Westminster. However, many believe that once Brexit has been sorted (or forgotten!) the next big battle within parliament will be the legalisation of recreational cannabis.
The primary duty of a government is to protect the people it serves. Currently, our government’s approach to cannabis is quite simply failing to do that.
Below are four reasons legalising cannabis could improve the quality of life in the UK.
People who use cannabis for medical reasons are not criminals – they’re patients.
Medical cannabis is still out of reach for the majority of patients. This is because doctors are still reluctant to prescribe cannabis and even if they do, prescriptions can cost upwards of £800 per month.
This has led to patients having to break the law and 'grow their own'. This carries a maximum jail sentence of up to 5 years.
Also, in the UK, cannabis is currently only prescribed for a small selection of ailments. However, there is new research almost every month that suggest the medical applications for cannabis could be very broad.
Studies are starting to show cannabis has the potential to shrinking cancerous brain tumours. CBD has been found to reduce epileptic seizures by 54% and THC has reduced spasticity in MS sufferers by 30%.
It is clear we need more research to best determine how cannabis can help treat countless diseases. Our government’s approach to cannabis is hindering this research.
The UK gets through a massive 5.2 million ounces of cannabis a year – that is over 4 grams per year for every adult in the UK.
This is a lot of dope that the taxpayer is not benefiting from.
Nearly £1bn – yes BILLION – in taxes could be raised from the regulated sale of cannabis.
That’s actually more money than I'm able to imagine so let’s put it into perspective:
An extra £1 billion into the exchequer each year would fund :
- 2.3 million people’s disability living allowance per annum
- 27,000 primary or 22,000 secondary school teachers
- a year's worth of free school meals for 2.5m children
Also, legalisation would create thousands of jobs – it is not often that a brand new industry materialises.
In the US, the cannabis industry added over 64,000 jobs to the economy in 2018. It is currently the fastest-growing jobs sector in the entire country.
Unless you're an avid reader of the Daily Mail or The Sun, you'll know that there is yet to be a recorded death attributed solely to using cannabis.
It is practically impossible to overdose on cannabis. In fact, a man weighing 12.5 stone would have to ingest 53 grams of pure THC in one session for it to be toxic.
To put this into perspective, here are some legally available items that are more dangerous than cannabis.
- Alcohol – Alcohol is 114 times more toxic than cannabis. In 2017, 7697 people died from alcohol poisoning in the UK alone.
- Caffeine - This one was a surprise. Pro Plus, Monster drinks and caffeine powder have been attributed as the primary cause of death for individuals who ingested large quantities.
- Tobacco – Tobacco is the cause of 18% of adult deaths in the UK and is a massive strain on our NHS.
- Sugar – Sugar causes hundreds of thousands of deaths every year due to the long list of diseases it contributes to.
In the office, we enjoy the odd latte and we have a particular affinity for Reese’s peanut butter cups and a pint on a Friday. We don't want to ban these, but lets put cannabis in perspective.
It’s been nearly four years since Colorado became the first state in the USA to legalise cannabis. Since then, many states have followed and seen the following benefits:
- Violent crime has decreased in the years following statewide legalization.
- The number of 'minors' arrested for possession of cannabis fell by 50%.
- Gang violence and homicide have fallen on the US-Mexico border.
- The average price of illegally grown cannabis has dropped from $90 to $30 per kilogram; a result of the demand for contraband has plummeted.
- There have been fewer fatalities due to intoxicated driving. This is because people drink less in states where cannabis is legal.
In the UK, we often complain that the police do not spend enough time solving 'proper crimes'.
Policing cannabis is estimated to cost the UK taxpayer £361m a year. Many argue if these resources were better spent, the police would be able to better prevent and solve serious and violent crimes.
Again, if we look at the USA we can see this to be true. FBI data shows that the more violent crimes are solved in states where cannabis has been legalised.
So if our government were able to create sensible regulation and legislation based on science and evidence as opposed to misinformation, The UK would benefit from a brand new source of taxable revenue, 1000s of dealers would be out of business, police spend their valuable time doing meaningful work and most importantly we could focus on finding solutions for the one problem that cannabis does appear to be linked with: super-strength strains which studies have linked to mental illness
Any potential harm of cannabis no matter how minimal should be managed through education and proper regulation – not fear and misinformation.
Is that too much to ask?!