A note should be made that (as stated by Alun Buffry in his article What if Cannabis was Legalised – coming soon to ISMOKE Magazine) it is not cannabis itself that is illegal – it is the possession, cultivation (production) and supply without a license, that is banned. The law is against the people that wish to use the plant to their benefit.
It is now, in bleak conservative times that we cry out for a new drug reform movement. Radical ideas have been yelled from the corners of our new Britain. Calls for a complete revamp are becoming stronger, more supported, and our frail, outdated system has been put under pressure by many; young and old. But the immortal question is, and always will be, can and should cannabis be legalised?
There has been a stigma around drugs for many a century, although it has been seen mainly since the beginning of widespread cannabis prohibition around the mid 20th century; most countries have not re-legalised it for personal use, although more than 10 countries tolerate its use and/or its cultivation in limited quantities. Holland has successfully managed the decriminalisation of cannabis since 1976 and now runs a brisk trade with stoners all over the world.* It has experienced no problems, and there have been no recorded deaths from the use of cannabis. They treat it as a soft drug, the definition of which is one that if controlled will not damage society, and it is true. Crime rates have not risen in Holland, education scores have not dropped. In truth many teenagers are not interested in it due to the fact it’s legal, happily discussed and therefore holds very little appeal to them. As we see, these countries are not socially and economically crippled. In fact they have had public spending reduced, they can make sure that cannabis is controlled properly; they can stop the thousands of petty arrests and raids that the police have to regularly maintain. The U.S in 2010 spent $500 a second fighting the war on drugs. Of 1,637,187 arrests 844,789 were cannabis related – that’s one person every 30 seconds. The U.S so far last year has spent more than $40,810,230,056 fighting the war on drugs. This merely proves how much money is wasted on a drug which science says has claimed zero lives. With this money you could build 45,000 hospitals.
When we compare this to alcohol and the damage this can do we really see what should be legalised, and what shouldn’t. Half of the men admitted to hospital in the U.K are there because of alcohol related injuries, and the NHS spends £3 billion a year fixing these people up. Alcohol death rates have doubled since 1991 with the success of supermarkets, and cheap alcohol. So why is alcohol legal, and cannabis not? A good question… Despite 49% of people in the U.K wanting it decriminalised, the truth about the plant is still held in the dark by propaganda campaigns and false education by our government. Most parents have said that they would rather it be legal, and their kids know the truth about it than be told that if they smoke it they’ll die and that the world will end. At fifteen years of age, 40% of your kids will have tried cannabiscannabis, and when they do they realise that the drugs education they’ve been given is wrong, leading them to believe there is no truth in what they’ve been taught, and this leads them to think that all drugs are safe,. They are told all drugs are the same: They are all bad. This is not true, there is a enormous difference between heroin and cannabis, but children are told both are illegal, both will kill you; it’s all the same. The current curriculum of fear-mongering tries to scare children into not trying drugs by exaggerating their effects, but as we have seen this does not work. When weed doesn’t make them throw up everywhere, become depressed, angry, confused and paranoid, as their teachers have led them to believe but instead happy, relaxed and a bit giggly they ignore everything that teacher has said. Thus comes the presumption that every drug is like weed, it’s all absolutely fine and the teachers were lying. This is an awful trap to fall into and claims young lives and young minds every year. We should reform the drugs system to tell kids exactly what drugs will do to you, we cannot stop them from trying them so surely the best thing to do is to let them know the exact risks and the benefits and then let them make their own minds up? There comes a point when we cannot shelter our kids from everything, eventually they will have to make their own decisions and if the information they have had thrust upon them is wrong this can lead to disastrous consequences.
What we ideally need to do is legalise, regulate, educate and medicate. These wise words spoken by many smokers are staggeringly true. If we are educated about it and it is regulated then what reason is there is there for not legalising it for its medicinal and recreational use?
The bottom line is it isn’t going to kill everyone, we’re notgoing to go mad, crime rates won’t soar, today’s children won’t become knife-wielding, hood-donning thugs, so sit back, roll up a fat one and relax.
*Update – since this article was originally written there have been developments in Holland, where the Government now plans to introduce a Weed Pass. See this article.
By John Hebron