Today, MPs are going to debate the legalisation of production, sale and use of cannabis in the UK. The long awaited discussion comes after a public petition to parliament, which has reached over 220,000 signatures.
The drug reform argues cannabis legalisation could bring in £900m a year in taxes, a £400m saving on policing cannabis and it could create over 10,000 new jobs.
The motion was proposed by Labour MP Paul Flynn, a long-time advocate of drugs reform. Writing for the Daily Mirror he states –
We waste billions on arresting and imprisoning cannabis users for a taking a substance that is less harmful than alcohol… Health risks of cannabis use are real but are greatly minimized when eaten, drunk or ingested as a vapour. That is happening in controlled legal markets that are springing up throughout the world
Successful Legal Cannabis Markets
Cannabis has been legalised in US States Alaska, Colorado, Washington DC and Oregon. According to Transform, the drugs policy experts, legalisation in Colorado has not led to a spike in cannabis use by young people (as anticipated) but instead has caused a significant reduction on the criminal market, with the state now controlling 60% of sales. Portugal has also seen various benefits since decriminalising drug possession for personal use.
The successful legal cannabis markets in different parts of the world means the supporters of prohibition now have the responsibility to explain why it shouldn’t happen in the UK.
However, a three-hour discussion is unlikely to have a meaningful change on the current drug laws, especially since the Tories have cracked-down on legal highs, since winning the election in May.
The Government has responded to the petition by stating – “Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities”.
Whether today’s meeting is just a symbolic gesture, it is still a giant step for the movement for legalisation.
Watch the debate live: parliamentlive.tv