cannabis legalization in the UK
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Cannabis Legalization in the UK: Prospects

Posted On October 17, 2019 at 12:03 pm by / 2 Comments

The legality of cannabis in the UK

Recently, the UK’s upcoming exit from the European Union, there were debates around current drug laws and possible legalization of hard drugs such as cannabis which have arguably taken a back seat. However, the argument still manages to feature in current news outlets. This has significantly increase due to the recent change in drug laws across the pond.

In his statement on the legalization of cannabis in Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau justified the decision by stating that the current laws governing the use of cannabis were ineffective. He went on to claim that legalizing the use and trade of cannabis took money out of criminals’ pockets.

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The Situation At Hand

Cannabis became illegal in the UK in 1928 as an addition to the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920. Despite its illegality, data from the Home Office reportedly shows that there has been a steady rise of cannabis usage.

According to a 2016 report, it’s estimated that 2.1 million people used cannabis in the UK. A YouGov poll found that three quarters of British people support the use of the drug on medical grounds. Hence, crucially, nearly 50% of the public support its recreational use.

So, what is the current situation and how close is the UK to following Canada?

  • Cannabis is a Class B drug, meaning that it is illegal to possess, use and distribute. The current maximum sentence for possession of the drug is 5 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. For supplying, an individual could face a maximum of 14 years.
  • During Tony Blair’s government, the drug was reclassified as a Class C substance and this was accompanied by much. Under Brown’s premiership, due to the drugs’ threat of damaging mental health, it was reclassified under Group B. The main objection to the drug’s legalization continues to be the risks to mental health.
  • Whilst the number of cannabis users fell between 2006 and 2014, the demand for mental health related treatment increased by a halve.
  • Many have attributed this to the ‘Skunk’, a strain of marijuana that is high in THC, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis.

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The Demerits of Cannabis

NHS research suggests that cannabis is a relatively low risk drug with only around 10% of its users developing an addiction. For more perspective, its estimated that 32% of tobacco users will become addicted and 15% of alcohol users will become addicted. Furthermore, there have been no cases in the UK where death was caused as direct consequence of Cannabis use.

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What is the use of Cannabis?

Recently, CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis is currently being research for its medicinal properties. Following the case of Billy Caldwell where his cannabis oil to treat severe epilepsy was confiscated at an airport, from November 1st, medical cannabis oil will be available on prescription.

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How Will the Legalization Process Look Like?

In a 2018 report, the IEA have said that cannabis is to be ranked between alcohol and tobacco in terms of its regulation and sales should be restricted to over 18s. They further suggest that marijuana would have to be sold in licensed premises and a licence would be required for growing and importation.

Can Legalization be Accomplished?

An individual named Paul North of Volteface has recently spoke on alternative drug policies and stated that we are a lot closer than people think to following in Canada’s footsteps. North commented to The Standard that; “We will certainly see a regulated cannabis market in the UK in the near future.” He further qualified this remark by highlighting the importance of “education so that the public are better informed of what we have to gain from reform.”

The Merits of Cannabis

Final Analysis

Cannabis can now be gotten in the UK legally but only via a prescription for medicinal use. In terms of current government’s stance on its recreational legalization, do not expect any such legislation change any time soon.

Thus, in 2018, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office did claim that “there are no plans to legalise or decriminalise the drug and also underline “serious harm” medical studies show it causes”. The reverse is true

However, this is not to say that legalization will never happen. With a different government, under a different constitution, it is still very much possible, I believe so

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