Canada has just legalised the recreational use of marijuana. It’s a major development in one of the world’s leading economies, and the move is expected to create a multibillion-dollar industry.
Canadain Senator, Tony Dean, had the following to say on the legalisation of the drug: “We’ve just witnessed a historic vote for Canada, the end of 90 years of prohibition. Now we can start to tackle some of the harms of cannabis. We’ll see the end of criminalization and we can start addressing Canada’s $7billion illegal market.”
The move has restarted the debate about legalising cannabis in other parts of the world. The former leader of the British Conservative party, Lord William Hague, has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to open the debate following the developments in Canada and with 12-year-old, Billy Caldwell, being admitted to hospital after the confiscation of his medicinal cannabis.
Lord Hague referred to Britain’s drug policy as “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date”, in a recent article for the Telegraph.
A vote of confidence
Hague’s comments have restarted a debate for a referendum to be held on marijuana’s legality. Should the vote be up to the Versed audience, there would be a resounding result in favour of legalising the drug’s distribution.
A poll run on the Versed social media channels showed 94% of voters over Twitter said ‘yes’ to whether cannabis should be legal, whilst 68% were in favour over Instagram; the results delivered an 81% average of ‘yes’ to legalising the drug.
With an audience mainly made up of millennials, perhaps results such as these are to be expected. However, looking at the age range of cannabis consumption, such overwhelming favourability to legalising the drug may also be delivered from an older age group.
In 2017, of those aged 16-59, 2.1 million people in England and Wales used cannabis. ThinkTank’s such as Volte Face argue the vast amount of people using cannabis are consuming substances which are unregulated and likely to be unaware of the drug’s strength.
Looking at other cases
When analysing American states or countries that have legalised marijuana, there are obvious benefits. Jeff Smith, writing for the Guardian, speaks of the positives outcomes from Washington legalising the drug in 2014:
“Washington state has taken $1bn in tax revenues, almost 80% of which is pledged to their health and judicial systems. Opioid dependency is down across the state, child use of cannabis has flat-lined, and Washington state police can now focus on eliminating the remnants of the black market”.
— Jeff Smith, the Guardian
The likes of Portugal who have decriminalised marijuana for over 15 years experience some of the lowest crime rate and deaths from drug use, whilst a report from the Institute for Social and Economic Research found that legalising cannabis in the UK will save up to £300million in policing alone and can earn the Treasury up to £3.5billion per year in tax revenue.
There are clear cases to legalise the drug, but the Government’s concerns remain that introducing such a policy will only lead to a gateway of consumer abuse of other substances.
Have your say on whether the substance should be made legal in the comments below.