A new study has found that legalising the sale of cannabis in the UK could raise £1 billion in tax revenue and reduce the harm done to users.
The findings come from a panel of experts which included scientists, academics and police bosses who concluded that the UK should follow the example of some U.S. states which allow over 18s to purchase cannabis in specially licensed stores, The Telegraph reports.
The Liberal Democrats now want to bring in proposals which would allow people to grow their own cannabis at home for personal use and small-scale licensed cannabis social clubs.
Advertising or branding of cannabis would be banned and the pricing and packaging of cannabis would be strictly controlled by the Government.
The panel was set up by the former Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb and includes Mike Barton, the Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, Professor David Nutt, the former chair of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs, and Niamh Eastwood, executive director of the drugs charity Release.
In the report, they said:
Drug policy to date has (almost) always been driven by political and ideological agendas that have ignored scientific, public health and social policy norms.
We are fully aware of the health harms associated with cannabis use, but contend that a rational policy must pragmatically manage the reality of use as it currently exists, rather than attempt to eradicate it using punitive enforcement.
The study’s results could lead to the Liberal Democrats becoming the first British political party to back the legalisation of cannabis sales.
Tim Farron, the party’s leader, said:
We need a new, smarter approach and I welcome this report ahead of the debate at spring conference.
It is a waste of police time to go after young people using cannabis and ludicrous to saddle them with criminal convictions that can damage their future careers.
A legal market would allow us to have more control over what is sold, and raise a considerable amount in taxation.
He went on to say that an evidence-led approach to drugs law reform was needed and that the report should be taken seriously if Britain is to end its ‘failed war on drugs’.
The Lib Dems would also create new regulator to oversee the industry.
So, what do you think – should cannabis be legalised?