The debate surrounding cannabis legislation in the UK is messy, marred by so much in-fighting and disagreement that often either side of the debate don’t come across well enough to convince a four-year-old of anything, let alone a country.
One thing experts can agree on is that prohibition doesn’t do the UK’s citizens or business interests many favours. Many MPs often cite the legalization or decriminalization of cannabis as jumping into the abyss, with untold and unforeseen consequences.
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Invite them to take a look at Colorado. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, up to this month, legal cannabis from dispensaries has yielded over a billion dollars’ worth of tax revenue. The extra cash goes towards public services such as health and wellbeing, the building of public schools and preventing youth consumption of cannabis. In fact, youth usage has seen a significant drop in Colorado since regulation, with the added bonus of lower crime rates too.
Whilst I can’t confirm that these variables have a causative relationship, the numbers look great overall for Colorado’s public services. In the UK, our local authorities are starving, often taking the hit for budget cuts from central government.
The he-said she-said bickering and blaming between councils and central government has gone on for far longer than I’ve had years on this planet. Councils blaming a lack of provision on the government and governments blaming a lack of provision on councils is an age-old tale that I fear won’t ever cease to play out.
How could regulation of Cannabis in the UK help I hear you ask?
The UK has over eleven times the population of Colorado, which would lead one to expect around £9 billion in taxes for cannabis.
Of course, it’s important to understand that multiplying Colorado’s population and tax revenues by eleven might not necessarily be representative of the UK population’s cannabis habits, but even half of £9 billion could give around a 12% boost to our police budget or be used towards public health.
Doing this simultaneously takes money out of the black market, with cannabis farms no longer contributing as much to more serious organized crimes. It would also allow the police and the courts to divert some of their limited recourses to more serious issues.
The very politicians peddling prohibition are nothing short of hypocrites, happy to stain the record of a young person found with cannabis, whilst simultaneously admitting to previously snorting class A drugs which hold far greater criminal consequences with no repercussions.
The UK Home Office has been at odds with the policy that it enforces in many cases recently, namely last year when both cocaine and methamphetamine was found in their headquarters on separate occasions.
You’d think that by now with so much out in the air surrounding drug use under the public eye that we would see some progress with our drug laws, but unfortunately the opposite seems to be the case.
Akash Hashmi is a Journalism MA student from Sheffield with an undergraduate in Forensic Science.
You can follow him on Twitter: @Akashmash.Parliament photography: Skeeze34 weedworldmagazine.org
Written and Published By Akash Hami In Weed World Magazine Issue 142