Should weed be legal?
The problem with cannabis is that it remains a class B drug and it is a very controversial and debated topic. Since the drug’s entrance into western culture in 1910 by Mexican immigrants into the US it has been a dark rise for the drug. Almost immediately after the drug was introduced into North America it was linked with violent and organised crime as well as insanity. It was only in the 60’s that the opinion of pot changed when white middle and upper class Americans started to use the drug and use it openly. However it has only been in the past few years that so many people not only in America but in countries across the world have started to make noise about the legalisation of the drug.
I think that this is because people have realised that the effects of weed aren’t actually that harmful, if harmful at all. With Cannabis not being reported to have caused any fatal overdose in humans, due to its low toxicity. Whereas you take another class B drug, Ketamine for example which is responsible for deaths across the world, with as many as 90 in the UK alone. Furthermore Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in the world over any other drug, with an estimated 158 Million users worldwide, according to the UN.
For the majority of Cannabis users the drug doesn’t have any adverse effects, however the effects that are felt reportedly differ from person to person. Only around 10% of Cannabis users become dependent on it, but research shows addiction only becomes a problem with regular use, or if you start using it at a young age. Another negative with the addiction of Cannabis is that most people use it with tobacco, which is also known to be addictive. Therefore with the regular use of Cannabis in conjunction with tobacco you are also at risk to becoming addicted to tobacco, and then you become more vulnerable to the problems that brings, such as cancer and heart problems.
Arguably there is one thing about Cannabis being a class B drug that I kind of agree with. That being the amount of resources and money being spent on trying to crack down on the drug. I understand that it is still an illegal drug so it’s not like the government can’t be doing anything about it, which I guess they still don’t have too. But considering the drug doesn’t really have any negative effects and doesn’t cause that much of a problem, there is a lot of police time and money being wasted on either catching and prosecuting either producers or users when it surely could be better spent elsewhere.
Furthermore the government would not only save money by legalizing weed from not having police crack down on it, they could make money from taxing it. This is proven all the way over in Colorado where the state is estimated to make over £71 Million just in tax alone, that’s not including the money saved from the police budget. According to vice.com the UK Cannabis industry could be worth around £6.8 Billion a year. if CLEAR’s estimates are right then almost £770 Million could be saved by British Taxpayers with £200 Million saved from the police budget, as well as £51 Million saved by the Prison service.
One good thing going for the legalisation of weed is its growing medicinal benefits. And the lack of proven serious adverse effects of using it. For example an increased appetite, psychoactive effects and dizziness are about as bad as the effects go regarding the use of weed. Research is now happening to see marijuana’s benefits with HIV/AIDS as well as neurological problems such as MS and epilepsy. There aren’t many drugs that you can say have more benefits than negatives. However more research is needed for all of this, including to see what long-term effects weed actually has.
There are a surprising number of countries that have already made the drug legal for medical use, including Canada, Germany, Finland and Italy. The UK and France however have only approved the use of Sativex, which is a specific extract of the drug that is used to alleviate overactive bladder and some symptoms of MS. Whereas in Spain, and more notably the Netherlands Cannabis can be obtained freely with no need for a medical reason or prescription. This shows that globally there is a relatively positive attitude when it comes to cannabis. However I think that rightly, the drug needs to be fully researched and all of the effects, whether positive or negative, need to be found out before it becomes another addition to everyday life.