Legalisation of cannabis is the “only solution to crime and addiction problems”, the report The Tide Effect: How the World is Changing Its Mind on Cannabis Legislation says. A document published by the Adam Smith Institute, one of the world’s leading think tanks with neoliberal ideas, whose purpose is to “educate the public about free markets and economic policy and to inject ideas into the public debate”, as they are described on their website.
Cannabis is the most used illegal drug in the United Kingdom. To be precise, 6,7% of adults aged 16 to 59 used it in the past year. And “most cannabis users smoke not because they are addicted but to have fun”, the report says.
The organisation explains that public use of marijuana is the biggest concern of citizens. Many English people would object to people using marijuana in public, but the majority would not object to people smoking it in their own homes.
The Adam Smith Institute cites economics benefits too for legalising cannabis. A legal cannabis market could be worth £6.8bn to the economy annually, potentially netting between £750m and £1.05bn in tax revenues.
The report claims the number of people in prison for cannabis-related offences in England and Wales would also probably decrease from the current 1,363, who cost taxpayers £50m a year. According with the Home Office, if the government legalised it, taxation from sales and savings in criminal justice costs could net the Treasury up to £1bn.
The report has the backing of several cross-party MPs including the former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats). “British politicians must open their eyes to what is happening in the rest of the world. Cannabis prohibition is being swept away by people, on a tide of popular opinion and replaced with responsible legal regulation” he said.
In addition, the former home secretary Jacqui Smith explained: “Knowing what I know now, I would resist the temptation to resort to the law to tackle the harm from cannabis. We must overcome the prejudice and the negative language surrounding cannabis to create a new drugs strategy that actually works for the UK”.
Caroline Lucas (Green Party), Paul Flynn (Labour Party) and Peter Lilley (Conservative Party) welcomed the report too. “The war on drugs has been an abject failure, and the continued criminalisation of cannabis users is deeply counterproductive”, Lucas said.
Following in other countries’ footsteps
California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts are the latest US states to legalise cannabis. The Netherlands effectively decriminalised it in 1976 and Portugal in 2001. Germany is about to fully legalise cannabis for medical purposes and Canada plans full legalisation and regulation in the near future.