Legally regulating cannabis is an idea whose time has come. Prohibition is not only ineffective and expensive, it has devastating outcomes for the communities it targets – disproportionately people of colour, women and the poor - and for wider society.
Under prohibition, people who use drugs are denied vital harm reduction services and access to reliable information about what they are consuming. While those involved in the cannabis trade – from farmers who cultivate to people who sell – continue to be criminalised despite having limited alternative livelihood options. Wider society also pays the price with vital resources for public services, like healthcare, being diverted unnecessarily into the criminal justice system.
Countries across the world, such as Canada, some US states and Luxembourg, are taking vital steps to ending these damaging laws – it is time for the UK to catch up.
Better public health
Legally regulating cannabis will mean people who use drugs have access to safer products and a choice about what they are consuming, as well as access to harm reduction services at the point of sale. Not to mention the potential health benefits of cannabis based medicines for patients.
More money for public services
Legally regulating cannabis would mean that money and resources that have been diverted to the criminal justice system can instead be redirected to relevant public services, such as harm reduction and greater funding for the NHS. The introduction of a legal cannabis market would also raise at least £1 billion each year in tax revenue that could also be invested into these services.
Justice for communities affected by prohibition
Legal regulation of cannabis offers an opportunity to repair the damage done for communities impacted by prohibition, from producer to consumer. It would put an end to militarised and violent criminalisation that serves to entrench poverty and inequality for those communities, and provide opportunities to engage in the legal market with sustainable livelihoods and protected labour rights.
The need to introduce a legally regulated cannabis market is clear. It is time for the UK government to repair the damage done by prohibition for all those who have been affected.
Demand the UK government act and support the legalisation and regulation of cannabis NOW.