Written by Thomas Westgarth
With a recent petition to legalise cannabis reaching over 100,000 signatures, is the UK ready for cannabis to be made legal?
Recently, near where I live in Newcastle, the police force have decided that they will not arrest people in possession of marijuana or growing it for their own use. This has prompted support for the drug to be legalised, with signatures exceeding the 100,000 that is required for parliament to consider debating the issue.
With over 3 million adults in the UK smoking marijuana, it seems wrong to be criminalising such a large portion of society. The Institute for Economic and Research state that £900 million would be generated if a UK regulated cannabis market was taxed and had excise duties, like with alcohol and cigarettes. Additionally, £361 million would remain in the public police coffers as a result of not having to police and treat illegal cannabis users. This money could then be reallocated to address other pressing issues such as child abuse or domestic violence.
Being fairly liberal, I believe that consumers should have freedom of choice. If consumers are given the costs and benefits of using a product they can make an informed choice where they full well know the risks. By legalising cannabis we are reducing the power of a nanny state branch of government which tells us what we can and cannot do.
The main problem with legalising cannabis is that it will generate more addicts. With alcohol and tobacco widely available there is addiction to these demerit goods nationwide. This would generate a detrimental cost to the NHS, having to treat people who have suffered from mental illness and other physical problems as a result of increased marijuana use. The taxpayer should not have to pay for the long term costs of people consistently making bad life choices which damage their health. Increased drug use usually leads to higher reports of violence and crime, generating drawbacks for the police force.The Gateway Theory also states that soft drugs such as cannabis lead to users moving onto more harmful drugs such as heroine and cocaine.
Personally, I have seen friends wilt as a result of using cannabis. Their motivation drops and grades slump. Best mates with brilliant potential to succeed and achieve have withered away into shadows of their former selves. Despite being an advocate of freedom of choice, there is no way that the government should allow the public to indulge in a good that causes nothing but harm to the user along with their friends and family, the NHS and society as a whole