As a nation we find ourselves locked in an extremely unstable economic position. It’s all doom and gloom, unwinnable wars in distant lands, benefit cuts and wanker politicians. I don’t doubt that the people at the top are facing very difficult decisions on a daily basis, confronted with unsolvable problems and spiralling markets. But fuck all that. Here’s what I reckon.
I want to talk about a possible government monopolisation of the cannabis market and the legalisation of cannabis by and large. I believe this could save the economy, cut crime, create jobs and boost tourism, whilst hardly changing the fabric of society.
Section One: Expenditure.
i) Policing cannabis costs millions and millions every year, both on the streets and along our national borders, in offices and in jails. The total cost of the war on drugs is colossal.
ii) Millions of pounds exist in hard cash under beds and in shoeboxes, tied up in the cannabis market. Useless to the banks and the economy.
iii) The medical cost of cannabis is probably much lower, but considering the government make no cash from cannabis (unless they’ve already got some dodgy shit going on), they spend money every year trying to research the effects of the substance, never mind trying to rehabilitate those who have been psychologically damaged by it.
Now I want you to visualise that total cost, say yearly, for the last time. Think about the enormity of it – and now get rid of it. After the monopolisation and legalisation of cannabis, the government is free to spend their redundant expenditures wherever they see fit.
Section Two: Income.
We’ve already saved the government absolutely loads of cash. Now we’re going to make them some too. There are an estimated five to six million cannabis users in the Uk. That’s a tenth of the population. That’s a big, reliable market. Money is currently going to the wrong hands, to dealers who can’t spend most of it because they need it to buy more cannabis. Useless cash to the economy.
The government could grow cannabis on a huge scale in this country, at very little comparative cost. Cannabis is currently selling at £10 per gram all over the country. That’s a value greater than gold. It’s gold – which you can grow on a plant. Gold that you can grow on a plant, which is in constant demand.
The government can tax the sales of cannabis extortionately, and still charge less for it than the black market. Considering the taxation of the cigarette and alcohol industries account for a huge percentage of their tax income, which are two markets they haven’t monopolised or nationalised, taxing cannabis that they owned in the first place would create a ridiculous level of income to spend in much more beneficial avenues.
Why do people want to come to Britain? Probably because they heard something exciting once that then transpired to be utterly untrue on arrival. But people still come, in their millions every year. If cannabis use were a legal recreational option for tourists in the UK, not only would current tourists spend within the market, but so too would the doubtless millions of new tourists that would flock here.
It’s not solely a question of developing a new market to save the economy. If more people visited the UK, brought here by the option of getting mashed and standing gormlessly outside Buckingham Palace, then every other tourist industry would benefit. It might even save some of them.
The cash under beds and in drawers, in bedrooms and under floorboards, up and down the country amounting to countless millions, is absolutely useless to the government. When a dealer spends money, he spends his profits. The other money he earns goes on buying more cannabis so he can make another spendable profit. All of that money, suspended in some illegal transaction purgatory, the lost millions – that can’t be used by the banks or the government.
It’s all very well saying that bankers are all nobhead wankers. They probably are. But the point is, we live, and have lived historically, within this system for a great deal of time. Banks are how it works. You give them your money, and they make money out of it, and I don’t think we can change that. So all of this drug money in existence – it’s utterly useless to helping the economy recover.
Section Three: Jobs.
We live in a time of widespread unemployment. The job market is saturated with applicants fighting over one another to get anything they can. The monopolisation of the cannabis market would create, purely from a governmental perspective, thousands and thousands of jobs, whether it be picking or maintaining crops, or developing strategies for efficiency – or even for developing and implementing aftercare for ex-users of cannabis, or for ex-criminals marginalised by the previous system, thousands of new jobs would have to be filled.
The cannabis tourism industry, which could run from Amsterdam type coffee shops to memorabilia and paraphernalia outlets, would be created overnight. The scope for new business, and in turn, thousands of new jobs could suddenly be explored, so not only would the government create new jobs themselves, but they would create an absurdly lucrative secondary industry in the process.
Section Four: Criminalisation.
The person selling the cannabis is often not ready to enter that kind of routine or existence. Housing a person in prison, at a cost of nearly £40,000 each per year, is obviously going to criminalise them – if you’re being treated as a criminal, then you can psychologically convince yourself that you are one. People can go to prison for trying to make a couple of hundred pounds, and come out missing a large section of their lives, a completely changed person.
I don’t think it’s fair on a lot of people to imprison them for selling cannabis. Not only would legalisation/monopolisation make their ‘jobs’ redundant anyway, and put a stop to their dealing, it would save them from time behind bars. Entering prison must be one of the most destructive experiences that anybody could have. Instead of spending £40,000 per year, per prisoner, spend half of it giving them world-class rehabilitation, one-to-one counselling and extensive support in finding real work.
For a lot of dealers, the lure of selling cannabis is offset by the unattractive minimum wage jobs they might have otherwise. These dealers sell for a living; it’s their job, facing certain criminal charges if they get caught. Most dealers sell cannabis so they don’t have to buy their personal smoke. They sell it to make free cannabis for themselves. These dealers are still prosecutable. They can still go to prison.
Run the illegal cannabis market out of business by controlling it nationally. Spend the saved expenditures on giving all cannabis criminals/dealers support in the aftermath by finding them real jobs that they enjoy.
Section Five: Rehabilitation and wider benefits.
Most people who smoke cannabis feel marginalised in some way. Society treats illegal recreation with a ‘look down your nose at it’ attitude, but you have to ask yourself; if we legalised cannabis, would anything change? In my opinion, it wouldn’t. Even in an economic meltdown, millions of users are still buying it for inflated prices on the black market. The illegal cannabis industry hasn’t been crushed by the recession – far from it. I don’t think that legalising it would create a noticeable increase in consumption either, so it’s an opportunity to make a drastic change to society, without really changing anything in the process.
What government monopolisation would do is create vast quantities of money. This money could be used to help our floundering NHS, or our questionable education system. It could be focussed on providing better social benefits and improve other sectors too like social services. Hell, it could even give monetary grants to charities.
Importantly, money could be spent very usefully on rehabilitating former users. This would actually serve to tackle the country’s drug problem, not encourage it.
So, for any politicians reading this, take note. I’m not talking about the legalisation of all drugs as a whole, because I think that’s a different issue and one I don’t believe in, and I’m also sure there are fifty equivalent essays and strategies in office recycle piles up and down the country – but pick them up, and re-read them. The money that could be made from the ideas in this article could offer comprehensive support and rehabilitation to all drug users. It could help people with problems in a way that isn’t available now. You can’t win the war on drugs. It’s already lost. Let’s just accept that, and help the fucking casualties.
I think that most people think that legalising something goes strongly towards condoning it. Well, maybe it does, and maybe that is a stumbling block. But accepting that cannabis has and will always be used by millions of people in the UK is absolutely paramount; why do politicians insist on brushing these issues under carpets, instead of facing them head on?
For all the negativity and resistance, we should legalise and monopolise/nationalise the cannabis market: create jobs, lower crime, destroy the black market, create industry, boost tourism, redirect police attention and offer comprehensive social support.
It’s gold. That you can grow forever. Thanks for reading, make sure you check out my comprehensive guide to drugs.
*Please note that it is not “drugs” that are themselves “illegal” but the possession, production and supply of some drugs that is illegal in the UK.