Should cannabis be legalised in the UK?
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With a recent bill in parliament on whether cannabis should be legalised, it seems relevant to highlight its different uses and the positive effects that this drug can have on society, and not just the negative impacts that are emphasised in the media. Currently, anyone in the UK found in possession could face up to 5 years in prison: should it be legalised or would that only cause more problems?
Cannabis is legal in countries such as Spain, Columbia and the Netherlands and is used in many other countries as a form of legal medical treatment. There is no question as to why – there are countless examples of medical conditions such as epilepsy and anxiety in which cannabis has been proven to be effective in reducing symptoms.
For example, a six-year-old boy in the Netherlands, Alfie Dingley, suffered up to 30 epileptic seizures a day, but with the aid of cannabis oil, his seizures lessened in severity and frequency. Not only could legalising the drug provide additional treatment for these conditions, but the controlled manufacturing and production could result in cleaner, more regulated strains and access.
Another positive that could be gained from marijuana's legalisation is the possibility of taxation. Selling and taxing cannabis products can produce major tax revenue which could be used in a range of different areas.
Cannabis taxes in Colorado, for example, were anticipated to be $70 million per year but have frequently exceeded this – think how many improvements can be made to public sectors such as schools and the NHS with this additional capital. More control over its distribution would also allow for tighter regulations to be put in place to reduce its prevalence among younger children and those more at risk.
Not criminalising those caught in possession would release some strain on the legal and criminal justice systems by reducing cannabis-related crime, allowing attention to be redirected towards more serious crimes.
It's often argued that the legalisation of marijuana would spread the message to young people that drug use is acceptable. People worry that it may act as a gateway drug for stronger and more damaging substances. Legalisation would also mean that drug testing by employers would become endlessly more complex. Would you trust a doctor under the influence of marijuana to operate on you? Of course not - the system in place would need to accommodate those concerns.
Moreover, there are studies that suggest frequent cannabis use can be associated with high levels of anxiety and depression. The THC released into the bloodstream when smoked can lead to hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety and psychosis.
What are your thoughts on the legalisation of cannabis? Let me know in the comments below.