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Should cannabis be legalised for recreational use?

The Institute for Economic Affairs has called on Britain to follow Canada and parts of the United States and decriminalise the Class B drug.

Legalising cannabis could bring in more than £1 billion a year in tax revenues, a think tank has claimed.

The Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) has called on Britain to follow Canada and parts of the United States and decriminalise the Class B drug.

The report – called Joint Venture: Estimating The Size And Potential Of The UK Cannabis Market – claims the current black market for cannabis is worth £2.6 billion a year with 255 tonnes sold to more than three million people.

Introducing a commercial market for cannabis would lead to savings for the police and other public services, the free market think tank claimed.

In recent weeks, former Conservative leader Lord Hague suggested the Government should consider legalising the drug.

Writing in the Telegraph, Lord Hague, who led the party from 1997 to 2001 and was foreign secretary under David Cameron from 2010 to 2014, called for the party to rethink policy, saying the war against the drug had been lost.

He wrote: “Everyone sitting in a Whitehall conference room needs to recognise that, out there, cannabis is ubiquitous, and issuing orders to the police to defeat its use is about as up-to-date and relevant as asking the Army to recover the Empire.

“This battle is effectively over.”

Separately, the Government has said it will review the medicinal use of cannabis but underlined that it would remain prohibited for recreational use.

The IEA said savings to the NHS and other public services from legalising the drug would amount to at least £300 million per annum.

“When added to tax revenues of £690 million, plus new streams of income tax, business tax and VAT created by the legal industry, claims about cannabis legalisation providing a £1 billion windfall to the Treasury seem pessimistic,” it added.

Chris Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the institute, said: “It’s high time for reform of cannabis policy in the UK. Canada and the USA are showing the way.

“Done properly, the legalisation of cannabis is a win-win-win: criminals lose a lucrative industry, consumers get a better, safer and cheaper product, and the burden on the general taxpayer is reduced.”

What are your views? Is it time to legalise cannabis for recreational use? 

Should cannabis be legalised for recreational use?

67 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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mumgranann
12th Jul 2018
-1
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I think it should be legalised for medicinal use first. I’m severely arthritic and my friends in the U. S. A who have similar problems and have cannabis prescriptions find it extremely helpful
viking
10th Jul 2018
-1
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Kindly read the very latest papers about the long term effects of the use of this drug, then possibly really think about what you would wish for.
SamMW
6th Jul 2018
0
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Absolutely, it should be legalised. The arguments in favour are irrefutable and this from a retired policeman! Let's sell it in government shops and tax it accordingly. A win, win situation for crime reduction, the exchequer and our grossly overstretched police. Unfortunately, a Conservative government will never have the courage to do it.
jeanmark
6th Jul 2018
0
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Well said SamMW and we may find this government does realise the advantage of another tax gain!
SamMW
6th Jul 2018
-1
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I'd rather they paid for some extra NHS money out of taxation on cannabis than from putting 1p on income tax! It should, of course, be put on National Insurance, which is supposed to be for that very purpose, but that's another argument altogether.
jeanmark
7th Jul 2018
-1
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My own thoughts are that an increase in taxation (NI is for pensions) will never provide sufficient money for the NHS. It is a victim of its own success and as a result has become a bottomless pit as more and more health problems are catered for and peoples expectations increase. Added to that those that believe they have no responsibility for their own health as the NHS will treat them!!
su5y
6th Jul 2018
-1
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Everyone reacts differently to drugs, what is ok for one could be catastrophic to another. Also its a slippery slope, if cannabis is legalised how long will it be until another drug is considered. I know people who smoke cannabis, its a horrible smell, and I hate to think I could be subjected to it every day.

,
jeanmark
6th Jul 2018
-1
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Yes su5y, people may react differently to a number of drugs but that can be said for all drugs legal or otherwise. I believe that the advantage of legalising what is presently an illegal substance, is that may have the benefit of being more regulated and thus considered safer; much the same as paracetamol, ibuprofen etc. all of which have the potential to cause harm.
Westminster
6th Jul 2018
0
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They allow people to smoke cannabis in certain cafes in Amsterdam. Have the Dutch authorities published any research findings as the effect this has on users ? I am generally against legalising recreational cannabis, but perhaps a trial could be held in a particular area.
Hank999
5th Jul 2018
0
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I think we have to face reality. cannabis is a popular drug and all drugs are to some degree addictive but cannabis is no more addictive than tobacco and alcohol. You will always find people who take things to an excess. even food and it is bad for their health. There are stronger forms of the weed entering the market and there is no control or check on their effects. If it was legalized then at least the quality could be controlled. Police time is wasted because if they smell the weed then they have to go further and the end result is normally a small amount is found and they issue a warning if it's a first time. In medicine, cannabis has been used for centuries and I think that should be studied - but that's another subject. If people think that banning the weed stops people then they don't know human nature.
Alicia
1st Jul 2018
-2
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NO, it should only be available for supervised medical purposes.
Lionel
1st Jul 2018
3
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Having read the Sunday papers online today I really fear for the future of this nation.

It appears a large rump of ministers and M.P's are ready to legalise cannabis to save the NHS £300m and benefit the treasury by £1 billion!

So now the British government will prostitute itself to the GB£ and sacrifice it's own, sometimes, tax paying people?

If this is the case we deserve all we get!
northwalescouple
1st Jul 2018
3
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I suffer from emphsema / COPD and last year while my wife and I were in Florida I was given a cookie made with cannabis oil. The difference it made to my breathing was amazing. Although it only lasted a couple of hours my chest was as clear as a bell/
Pam1960
1st Jul 2018
0
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I don't have an issue with anyone using it for medical purposes but I am concerned that if it was legalised for recreational purposes would there be a significant increase in users. How would businesses monitor staff usage? How competent are people under the influence? What about car drivers? Will there be a limit as with alcohol?
Marion Pluckrose
1st Jul 2018
1
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Absolutely not drugs ruin people’s lives they are addictive not to mention expensive and make many psychotic which is a drain on NHS resources. The only exception would be for a small percentage of people where it is for acute medical reasons.
Hank999
5th Jul 2018
1
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You cannot use the word drugs to cover everything there is a huge difference between tobacco and heroine and both are drugs
Calli
29th Jun 2018
6
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Just wondering if the profit made from legalisation will out weigh the cost of the increase to healthcare? What are the long term health risks of marijuana? Gambling, alcohol and cigarettes are legal, and look what those things do to a body, a mind, and a life.
Lionel
29th Jun 2018
3
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So well said Calli. Thank you.
Margaret Hart
29th Jun 2018
3
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I agree with legalisation for medical purposes but not for recreational use no way. I’m nearly 71 and I’ve had a full & entertaining life most of the time bar ill health but I didn’t need drugs for recreation or to relax I could do that myself. Today they think we were brought up in the dark ages with no colour TV or mobiles phones, toilets outside, some really don’t believe us but it’s true and we made the best of everything we could. We ate proper food so there was no child obesity we went outside for entertainment not in corners taking drugs. I wish they would make the effort to,be real,people with good natures not drug induced.
Lionel
29th Jun 2018
2
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I couldn't agree more Margaret.

I've a personal interest in this subject as my wife's adopted son is now a drug dealer in a provincial city, having done time for violence. There is a Facebook video of him snorting cocaine and suddenly collapsing.

The old days really were better for us.
jeanmark
30th Jun 2018
0
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But we did have alcohol and for some reason that is seen as an acceptable way to relax. Is using cannabis any different?
jeanmark
30th Jun 2018
2
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Lionel, I believe part of the rationale for legalisation is to deprive drug dealers of an income.
Lionel
1st Jul 2018
1
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Yes, Jeanmark, I've read this too. But surely the thus far unstated part of that rationale is that sales of hitherto illegal substances will be taxed, as is tobacco and alcohol, the proceeds filling the Exchequer's coffers. But do we want a shade more financial prosperity on the back of yet more people using psychosis inducing drugs and hitting the NHS?

If the legal selling price for cannabis is set, then dealers will just undercut it in the same way illicit stills churn out very dubious forms of alcohol, complete with accompanying impurities and it's sold cheaper than supermarket stuff.

My early days in the London wine trade saw a hue and cry about a very popular cheap wine from Austria. Hirondelle. You may have drunk it at nurses parties. Press reports of casualties, people going blind after drinking Hirondelle, prompted by patriarchal boss to order some bottles tested. The results were in over night and our stocks, about 300,000 bottles, were returned to Bass Charrington Vintners. The wine contained not ethyl alcohol but methyl alcohol. You will know that is the product of unskilled distillation. It's better known as methylated spirits, the alcoholics last resort.

So, even when a substance is legal and regulated there are always people willing to undercut and create a market for sub standard products.
Lionel
1st Jul 2018
1
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Ah, this is a common line of thinking, but fatally flawed.

One of the Science journals, I think Scientific American, dealt with this a few years ago. In essence, their point was alcohol is less likely to lead to taking other harmful habit forming drugs, whereas cannabis is the first rung of a short ladder.

Now, I can't personally vouch for that - far better minds than mine wrote that piece. Yet, most certainly, some TV documentaries from GB have featured former addicts who have recounted just that path.

But here I would add the plethora of synthetic drugs available to people, particularly young people, these days seems to leave cannabis in the shade, but that's still not a reason for legalising its production and use.

More than 20 years ago I was truck driving. Sometimes on very long runs a co-driver would be provided. On a Monday morning, having checked the load was secured, drove for 3 hours. Pulled over and tried to wake my sleeping co-driver. No success. At that moment a motorway patrol car pulled in and demanded to see our paperwork and tachos. I deflected them from that to the co-driver, pointing out I couldn't rouse him. A copper looked him over and said I think he's full of 'E.' An ambulance was called and the lad taken away. There is more to the account but it points up, even where alcohol is legal in any quantity one cares to imbibe, other, strong, illicit substances are always more attractive.

That lad died of a massive overdose of Ecstasy after spending two nights clubbing and dosing himself.
andbrown01
29th Jun 2018
2
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Lionel
29th Jun 2018
2
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Quite right! This is the thin edge of the wedge. Legalise one and all the other drugs will tumble like a house of cards.
suzybe
29th Jun 2018
2
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Cannibis should be legalised for all uses. Many people would benefit from the proven health benefits without having to worry about obtaining it illegally. The battle is lost as far as growing and selling it is concerned and watching a couple of police series on TV shows how much time and effort is now being wasted on shutting the stable door long after the horse has bolted. Those who take it now may even be discouraged if they can't get the thrill of backstreet deals and have to buy it from a legitimate supplier knowing they are paying taxes too.
Lionel
29th Jun 2018
1
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No, no, and no again!

What is being said is that we should now endorse the failings and insouciance of governments over the last 55 years in dealing with drugs to get them off the hook and further pollute our society. What will be the end of that? More youngish people reeling around the streets bombed out of their skulls. More psychotics detained under the Mental Health Act or blocking scarce hospital beds. A further decrease in our safety on the streets? The list could go on.

Add to that, if we legalise cannabis production and use the vocal minority groups of which we have an excess, will be clamouring for all manner of other drugs to be legalised.

I'm not currently in favour of medicinal cannabis because the clinical effectiveness has yet to be determined.

I've responded to arguments on SS that legalising drugs will ensure a more pure substance which may be taxed and therefore better for the user and for the Exchequer. Do we really want this country to survive on the backs of our younger people enslaving themselves to drugs? Do we really want to live in an even less personally secure society?

Methinks not.
jeanmark
30th Jun 2018
1
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Actually Lionel, I have witnessed many MS sufferers from using cannabis and there is evidence of its benefits for certain conditions. I think the subject is emotive and not necessarily looked at objectively. 'Harder' drugs are a totally different issue as their effects, when used recreationally, are far more destructive.
Lionel
1st Jul 2018
1
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I recall a former nurse contracted by my first caring agency, BNA, was buying cannabis from a QE2 hospital porter in Lynn and selling it to an MS sufferer. I was once asked to spend a week with the chap and refused since it would almost certainly involve the supply of illegal substances or at least breathing in the fumes. Later, I learned two booking staff had been sacked - they were complicit in the nurse's activity.

Jeanmark, I fully acknowledge your many years experience in nursing and admit to some prejudice in my views. Being rather more objective, which is the best place to be, given sufficient evidence of the drug's remedial properties for certain diseases I could be persuaded medicinal use is allowable.

My prejudice began when, in a school assembly it was announced 6 of us would attend the funeral of one of my friends. He died of a heroine overdose, drugs supplied by his two brothers who had also been at the school. It must be said, even in the 60's English Public schools were accepting pupils on academic ability rather than applying a wider criteria.

As he was lowered into his grave I took a personal vow, one which has not ever been broken. I would not use drugs nor would I be involved with them in any way. 50 years later 2 more of my mates have died from drug addiction. You may have noticed I'm still standing.
jeanmark
2nd Jul 2018
3
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Well Lionel, I am not denying the harm of 'hard' drugs and I have seen many young deaths caused by them. There is nothing worse than sitting with parents as they watch their child die from taking one 'tablet' at a festival or concert because it is 'safe'. Cannabis was never involved. In my student days a close friend thought she could fly having taken Mandrex (a sedative and hypnotic medication used in the 60's) and none of us were quick enough to stop her 'flying' off the cliffs at Hunstanton. One of my own nieces was a heroin addict, she remains on methadone. I spent 15 years looking after drug addicts with various aliments caused by their drug addiction, including HIV. Only a small number of these started their addiction to hard drugs by taking cannabis. Those who did would probably have taken to these regardless of initially using cannabis, they had naturally addictive tendencies. I do not necessarily believe making cannabis available for recreational use is the best path, but I am also realistic enough to recognise it may be an option that has to be considered. I agree there will always be those individuals that will find a way to overcome the 'problem' of their 'product' being legalised but that should't stop options being explored to reduce this risk. It may also stop some young people experimenting if the thrill of doing something illegal is removed. I accept it hasn't stopped them experimenting with alcohol, but there are some who believe they learn this behaviour from parents!
Lionel
2nd Jul 2018
0
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Whilst I fully understand your points I remain convinced admitting the Law is a lame duck and legalising cannabis will lead to a domino effect of other very dangerous substances being legalised too. The thin end of the wedge.

I've spent some long time pondering your earlier point about the therapeutic effects of cannabis and will happily concede. However, strict safeguards must applied, akin to those in place for Diamorphine. If not, cannabis use will become the accepted norm as cigarette smoking was a couple of decades ago.

Widespread acceptance of hard drug use for recreation ought to be a trigger for stiffer government action to severely restrict illegal supplies and suppliers. Sadly that is not the case.

The 'War on Drugs' has been referred to below. That must have been a war I missed. It long seemed to me as a string of localised skirmishes so often resulting in either acquittal or case dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence. That suggests corruption in higher places, but I'm only theorising.

Much as it grieves me to say, until we as a nation take this matter of drugs seriously our only option is to legalise and pay the price for the domino effect.

How much that course of action is going to cost the NHS I can't imagine.
jeanmark
2nd Jul 2018
0
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I'm not sure there would be a domino effect if cannabis was legalised for recreational use. Most of the 'hard' drugs, diamorphine, morphine etc. are already legal for medicinal use and I believe their devastating effect will prevent them ever being legalised for recreational use. Interestingly, diamorphine is illegal even for medicinal use in most countries, but Tramadol was made a controlled drug in the UK in 2014 but it isn't in the USA. . As to the war on drugs, well I witnessed on a regular basis the hard work of the police in trying to stop this terrible trade and yes, they were often let down by the legal system, mainly lawyers who were always able to find a loop hole. That doesn't necessarily mean corruption, rather a bit like tax evasion, you just have to know how to manipulate the system, after all they are only doing their job, protecting their client!
ginntonic
29th Jun 2018
1
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I have no problem with it being prescribed for an illness but not for recreational use. Using cannabis recreationally can cause all sorts of health problems, physical and mental. There is also the potential of putting other peoples lives at risk by those who use it and drive.
jeanmark
30th Jun 2018
0
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But doesn't alcohol have as many dangers but is legal? I have seen too many lives destroyed by the use of alcohol, fewer from cannabis.
jorid
29th Jun 2018
1
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I voted a big no, but it should be able to be perscribed for illness, not for recreational use.
Munsterlander
29th Jun 2018
1
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Well the drugs wars have been going on for years and many places likke Canada and certain states in the USA have legalised it. Yes its time to legalise it and the government control it/private firms just like cigarettes. Get more taxes but amke the weed safe to smoke with filters. They should just get on with it.
jorid
29th Jun 2018
1
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Legalise just for TAX no no, we are on a slippery slope when we move boundaries backover.
Perscribed for certain illnesses yes but that is all

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