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Legalising Cannabis Hits UK General Election
Categories: cannabis

Legalising Cannabis Hits UK General Election

Posted: May 16, 2017

In Canada Justin Trudeau and his government have plans to legalise cannabis by 1st July 2018. It was a prominent and controversial campaign promise but one that gained support from younger citizens. This week in the UK the Liberal Democrats announced they would also plan to legalise cannabis if they were to win the general election. So, could the UK follow in Canada’s support for a regulated cannabis culture?

‘Legal, regulated market’

Party leader Tim Farron has said they would legalise cannabis and allow it to be sold openly by creating a ‘legal, regulated market’ that he estimates could raise up to £1 billion in tax per year. Currently, the UK annually spends £500 million a year enforcing the criminal status of cannabis, which in fact doesn’t prevent its purchase and use. Instead, it has created an unregulated market where it's purchased criminally. The Mirror reported that The Home Office carried out a study that found no link between tougher enforcement and the levels of drug use, implying it isn’t working as intended.

Safe access to cannabis

Criminalising cannabis has made it more dangerous and associated with gang violence and organised crime. If the Lib Dems get into power, they aim to take it back from criminals and manage it as a legal market with fewer risks. One of the points being made in the campaign is that open access to cannabis is safer than the current situation and could be monitored to prevent misuse. Currently, money raised from the sale of cannabis goes directly to criminals and dealers who have no regulations on quality. Such prohibition has led to a climate of risk-taking and street corner meetings where individuals risk up to five years in jail and a criminal record. Norman Lamb, the Lib Dems' health spokesman, said in 2016 that "the war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure". When people buy cannabis from criminals, they have no idea what they are buying."

Pricing, potency, and packaging

What does legal cannabis look like? It would most likely be a system similar to tobacco where there are restrictions on purchasing. For example, tobacco can also be sold to over-18s and can only be sold by licensed vendors. Advertising and marketing are also heavily controlled for tobacco, meaning it isn’t overly promoted, and there are restrictions on potency. Applying what has worked with tobacco use in the UK for cannabis would be a reform based on lessons learned over decades of a legal tobacco market.

Current worldwide law

In the UK cannabis is a class “B” drug. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it has a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, an unlimited fine or both. In 2001 Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs and eight US states have legalised cannabis, along with Jamaica and The Netherlands. Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates. It’ll be very interesting to see how this campaign progresses. Over the years the discussion around legalising cannabis has grown and is now important enough to be part of this huge public campaign, which in turn builds on education and awareness. At ICE Headshop we sell cannabis seeds, which is 100% legal in the UK and a range of other countries. They are to collect or use as fish bait and are strictly not intended to be cultivated or consumed.