03 Oct Five Reasons Why Boris Johnson Should Legalise Cannabis Now
Polls confirm that a majority of British voters support reform of our cannabis laws. More than three-quarters are strongly supportive of medicinal cannabis. There has been a sea change in attitude, also strongly accelerated by the rise of the CBD market, itself born entirely out of small, entrepreneurial British businesses. Boris could catch this wave, delight more than half of the electorate immediately with a bold, radical move and dispel much of the ‘nasty party’, authoritarian mood that has come out of the Covid crisis. Properly explained, a new policy can also deal with the concerns that still remain about cannabis. It should be presented as a solution to the four further reasons set out below and because, in 2020 no one wants to see their son, daughter, mother or father turned into a criminal just for cannabis. A large majority of electors support this.
2. Mental health
For many years, politicians have been advocating that mental health should be treated with the same priority as physical health. The Conservative Party has promised it repeatedly over the past decade. For those that fear cannabis contributes to young people’s problems, legal regulation is, without doubt, the solution. Age limits and licensed rather than criminal distribution channels will minimuse underage use. Proper labelling and limits on THC content of licensed cannabis will protect against the negative effects of so-called ‘skunk’. For the millions that we know already use cannabis actually to help with their mental health, particularly during lockdown, it will enable access to new, safely controlled and designed products with ideal ratios of CBD and other ingredients. These will be far preferable to the massive bill both in NHS expenditure and side effects that we currently pay for tranquilisers, anti-depressants, sleeping and anxiety medicines.
3. Tax revenue
The potential for an enormous net gain to the British economy, turning what is now only a drain on resources into a new revenue stream is huge. Serious, erudite work has been completed by a number of well-respected institutions. The most pessimistic estimate a net gain of about £1 billion. The most optimistic projections are 10 times as much. Looking to actual experience around the world, most likely is somewhere in the middle, perhaps around the £6.7 billion that the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit calculated in its 2011 study. As we emerge from the Covid crisis into a deep recession, cutting our costs and increasing our income are going to be vital and cannabis isn’t going away. We have to choose whether to waste money on it or make money from it. Cannabis legalisation won’t just cover its own costs but provide billions more that can be added to the public expenditure budget – and we are going to need every penny.
5. Crime and violence
The long held ‘gateway’ myth that consuming cannabis ‘leads on to harder drugs’ has been disproven over and over again by science. It’s still strangely prevalent amongst the poorly informed but even the UK government’s expert advisors formally rejected it in 2008. The laws against cannabis and the £6 billion criminal market that they have created is the gateway to deliquency, knife crime, county lines exploitation and hard drugs. The police and our political leaders have found themselves on the same side as organised crime, for they share the desire to keep cannabis banned. The public demand is not going away and a responsible government would act to regulate the market, to make it safer and to protect consumers. The criminal cannabis market is how young people get groomed and enticed into county lines and it’s what drives knife crime. It drives and funds much more serious crime. It is undermining our society. It really is one of the most idiotic, irrational and counterproductive of all government policies. A legally regulated market will pull the rug from under this nightmare scenario. As Canada has proved, within two years, around 50% of the market has already moved to legal channels and the damage caused by nearly a century of prohibition is gradually being undone.