The war on drugs has failed.
At a time when prisons are becoming increasingly overcrowded, 42,000 people in England and Wales are imprisoned each year for drug possession offences, their only crime being the possession of a substance for their own use.
This comes at a hefty cost to the taxpayer of about £15 billion a year.
Is it really worth that much money to imprison people who have brought harm to nobody?
Should we not be focusing our efforts on the organised criminals who run these drug empires rather than people who have done nothing but possess these illicit goods?
A peace treaty needs to be signed and this war on drugs must come to an end so that a more effective route can be taken in protecting the British people from harmful substances and in my opinion, the best place to start in rethinking our strategy is by copying America and reevaluating our relationship with marijuana.
So here are my four reasons that we need to rethink our approach to Cannabis.
1. Criminalising Marijuana pushes business into the hands of criminals.
Criminal gangs often make their money from selling drugs. If you can buy your weed at Tesco then criminals will have less money to buy guns and other bad guy stuff. They might even have to get a real job! That can’t be a bad thing right?
But taking our supply of cannabis out of the hands of criminals has other benefits too. When you’re shopping for food, which do you prefer? Going to a supermarket where you know that all of the food meets a high standard of quality and you are confident of what’s in the product you’re buying or would you rather buy dodgy bits of unlabeled meat from a dealer in an alleyway, without even being certain of what’s in it?
It’s exactly the same with cannabis. When things are illegal they’re unregulated.
However, if Tesco ever does start to sell weed, you might want to check your joints for horse meat before you smoke them.
2. Weed isn’t actually that bad for you.
No study to date has managed to show a link between cannabis smoking and lung cancer, even if there were a link, that doesn’t seem to affect the legality of smoking *cough* cigarettes *cough*!
However, even if cannabis does have some adverse effects, should we as adults not have the freedom to weigh the pros and cons and decide for ourselves? Many things in society are harmful to us either physically or mentally whether it be alcohol, cigarettes, unhealthy food or crossing the street before the green man lights up.
The point is, can we not be trusted to use cannabis in a safe and moderate way, just like we are trusted with alcohol and Big Macs? As long as we bother no one else whilst using it then I see no real crime.
3. Cannabis legalisation would raise a lot of money.
It was recently calculated that legalising cannabis would raise £900 million in Scotland alone. In a time of austerity when our Government is penny pinching in every way it can, would this money not be hugely welcomed?
This money raised through taxation, partnered with the money we’re saving from not imprisoning harmless stoners would be a massive aid in funding our schools and the NHS.
We would probably see a boom in profits for food suppliers as well…
4. America seems to be doing ok.
Since the full legalisation of Marijuana in Colorado, there has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime and a 5.2% drop in violent crime, the state raised over $10 million in taxes in the first four months which is being put into public schools and infrastructure and the marijuana industry is creating thousands of jobs and lowering unemployment.
Talk about a wonder-drug, right?
It’s clear that despite our governments best efforts, the war on drugs has failed. Whilst some drugs are very obviously dangerous and deserve to be illegal, what we need is a sensible, science-based approach to things like Marijuana as we’re massively wasting resources on tackling a victimless crime.
This is why the Liberal Democrats are planning to end the use of imprisonment for possession of drugs for personal use, diverting resources towards tackling organised drug crime instead, as a first step towards reforming the system.
You can find out more about the LibDem’s approach to drugs at http://www.libdems.org.uk/the-time-for-action-on-drugs-reform-is-now