Springer Samuel: Should cannabis be legalised?

Sam Juniper says YES, and here's why

Reefer, piff, the sweet ol’ Mary Jane: everyone’s got their own name for it. Yet the judicial system would call it something else entirely – a crime. That’s not very nice. Would you like to be called a crime? Here are five key arguments outlining why the production, sale, and possession of cannabis should be legalised for medicinal and recreational purposes.

1. It takes money out of organised crime

Not everyone who sells weed is an organised criminal – some people treat it as a side-hustle to earn a bit of extra cash, such as underemployed Cherwell columnists who are moonlighting to make ends meet. However, criminal organisations frequently use the illegal drug trade to fund their other operations – after all, selling cannabis is a low-risk, high-profit enterprise which rakes in millions of pounds every year. Legalisation would take the monopoly over the supply away from dangerous gangs, and make everybody safer by depriving them of desperately needed funds.

2. Make bare p for the government

Do you like the NHS? Do you like a well-funded education system? Do you like weed? If your answer to at least one of these questions was ‘yes’, you’ll probably see the logic in legalising cannabis. According to the Institute for Social and Economic Research, the government would earn almost £1bn in tax revenue each year from legalisation, whilst saving an additional £300m through no longer having to police and prosecute drug users. This is, of course, an estimate, but given that the state of Colorado has pulled in over $500m since the legalisation of recreational weed in 2014, it seems likely that the government would stand to profit.

3. Research has linked cannabis use to a decrease in violent crime

According to a paper published by the scientific journal PLOS ONE in 2014 (comparing the rates of violent crime against the availability of marijuana in US states), the rates were lower in areas where cannabis was more readily available, and the Economic Journal found that violent crime has fallen by 12.5 per cent near the US-Mexico border after the introduction of medical marijuana.

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4. The war on drugs has failed

Instead of shutting down suppliers and ending the distribution of illicit substances, it has criminalised their users instead. Portugal’s decriminalisation policy, which sees those caught with drugs receiving a small ne and potential referral to medical treatment, has resulted in the lowest overdose rates and the lowest use of legal highs in Europe. If the UK were serious about wanting to minimise drug use, it would follow suit.

5. It feels pretty great (and may be safer than alcohol)

Getting high is great – or so I’ve heard. Although long-term use has been linked to an increased risk of various mental health problems, it’s not as though alcohol or tobacco come without their pitfalls. For example, the last time I went out I woke up in my friend’s bed with a chipped tooth, having lost my earplugs and destroyed my trousers beyond repair – the evening’s damages exceeded £100. If, however, I were to have hypothetically had a spliff and proceeded to enjoy a pleasant evening binging on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I would have done no such damage to myself or my treasured possessions. Yet, only the former of these two evenings would be deemed socially acceptable in the eyes of the law. People are going to get high – it’s high time the government paid attention.