The main worry is that legalising cannabis may lead onto harder drugs. This however is not proven. Cannabis is said to have relaxation effect on the mind, which is why people take it. Also people will use it for medical purposes, so other harder drugs will not be involved. It may also be used as a drug that people will get hooked on, as a replacement for harder drugs; therefore more people may take cannabis.
Another reason against making it legal is that children will see that it is alright to take cannabis, as the law has made it legal. The Guardian newspaper stated that “About 49% of English teenagers say they have tried the drug – a level far higher than in any other western European country”. This is not good as nearly 50% of all teenage children have tried it. The other main factor against the legalisation of cannabis is the health risks involved. Although the drug can be used for medical purposes, it does have side effects. These include impairing short term memory, and affect body coordination and slow reaction time, affecting the brain by reducing the sympathetic blood flow – which means blood vessels dilute, therefore blood pressure and pulse rate drop. Heavy use of cannabis can lead to temporary psychosis – a serious mental disturbance that can result in paranoia or depression as well as trigger symptoms of schizophrenia.
The long term effects of cannabis are that there is a greater risk of cancer and heart disease, and can cause bronchitis. An article in a newspaper read “Smoking cannabis can increase the chance of a heart attack up to 5 times within the first hour of taking it”. Looking on the bright side, the economical factors that Britain will benefit from if the drug is legalised are worth thinking about. Reclassification could reduce the time spent by officers dealing with such offenders, enabling them to concentrate on tackling more serious crimes such as street robbery, which has increased. Making cannabis legal will create more profit to the government instead of to organised crime, who use these profits to sell other, more harmful drugs to people.
The increase in government spending, which will be obtained through the taxation of cannabis, can be used to spend on education, NHS, transport, etc. If cannabis is legal P(price), S+T(supply taxed), P,S+T(price of S+T) Tax revenue If cannabis were legalised, it would be taxed at a high rate. The tax added shifts the supply curve from S to S1. The quantity bought decreases to Q1, and the price is now high and moves to P1. The price received by supplier’s decreases to P2.
The amount of tax received by the government is the area P1, P2, (Q1,P2), and (Q1,P1). The legalisation of cannabis will increase tourism as many people who smoke cannabis go to Amsterdam where it is legal. This way people can come to Britain knowing cannabis is legal, and as a result, if cannabis is legal, demand in the black market will decrease. This is good news as the government would then be able to try and keep tab on the amount of cannabis smoked or consumed in Britain.
The market for illegal drug (Take from Economics, John Sloman, 4th Edition) The figure illustrates the market for cannabis. If it was legal, the demand and supply curves would shift to the right, hence to D (legal) and S (legal). This is because suppliers do not have to fear getting caught. The equilibrium price and quantity would therefore be P (legal) and Q (legal).
As cannabis is at this moment still illegal, the demand and supply curve is to the left. Demand for cannabis is pretty low and so to the supply, as suppliers and users are afraid of being caught and getting a prison sentence and fine. If the penalties were harsh for the supplier or user, then there is more chance of them being caught, and so there would be a more leftward shift in the demand and supply curve. Price however, is high, because the drug is illegal. If the drug was to be legalised, then demand will increase and price will fall. This would be because the drug is now legal and can be bought for social reasons, but more importantly for medical reasons.
Jobs will be created as cannabis will need to have the means of supply, distribution, and sale of cannabis to accommodate this. Labour is needed to grow and prepare the drug. A system will be needed where cannabis users are able to purchase cannabis, and producers and retailers having an organised network of supply, distribution and sale for the consumer. In Manchester, a coffee shop has opened where cannabis can be purchased.
It is reckoned that between 5 – 10,000 “Coffee-bar” type of retail outlets could be established throughout the U.K., providing some 50,000 plus jobs. There will need to be growers to grow the cannabis plant, quality control inspectors, security people, and all those involved with distribution. There would need to be trained advisors for the Help-lines, as well as those involved in the “Education and Information”. The funding for such things would be coming from the revenue generated by tax on Cannabis income, just like any other business.
However, cannabis does bring economical disadvantages if legalised. First off, dealers will be on the streets trying to supply cannabis and would not worry about getting caught as they could escape prosecution by claiming a large amount in their possession was for their personal use. There will also be a concern that sanctioning the medical use of cannabis might increase its use among the general population. This would not be a problem if the medical use of cannabis were as closely regulated as other medications with abuse potential. Cannabis may be addictive and legalising another addictive substance could only harm society. It could give a message out to people and especially youngsters that cannabis is alright to smoke, as it is now legal, therefore children may be influenced in smoking cannabis.
The negative impact of drug abuse on health is also a topic the government is concerned with, as the “health costs of a drug addict appear to be some 80 percent higher than those of an average citizen in the same age group”. Cocaine and heroin are main drugs that are commonly associated with drug-related deaths. Cannabis can have a negative impact on health but is not usually associated with death.
Drugs and crime are also related in several ways. Drug-related crime occurs mainly in the form of violence between groups in competition for increased market share at the wholesale and retail levels. “A full 50 percent of the total value of theft in 1993 in England and Wales was drug-related”. (Taken from newspaper article found on web) With the negative and positive views on cannabis outlined, I believe it should be legalised. Home secretary Davis Blunkett was quoted in the Gurdian newspaper as saying “Cannabis would remain a controlled drug and using it a criminal offence”.
We need to define the word “drug”. Is it a substance that can cause addiction? Or is it a substance that is so dangerous it can kill. Cocaine and Heroin are two life threatening drugs that can kill, but cannabis is not even on the same level as those two. Therefore if it is a drug that does not kill, I do not see why we cannot legalise it. Cigarettes and alcohol are legal, and both can kill. In Holland, cannabis is legal if smoked in a coffee shop or in the home. Because of the legalisation of cannabis, Holland has one of the lowest rates of hard drug users in Europe. The UK has one of the highest. (www.cannabis.co.uk)
If cannabis is found to be useful in medical advances that it should be legalised. There is nothing more important than helping a human being live a better life, free from pain and illness. Cannabis is a naturally occurring substance, which poses far less danger than cigarettes and alcohol. It has the ability to benefit the terminally ill. We should stop wasting resources on imprisoning young people found with small amounts of this substance. Instead we should use that extra money to educate children about the dangers of hard drugs. If there is a reason that cannabis will not be legalised, then a factor would be that the government could never find an approachable way of controlling it. Also the price would be higher than it would be on the black market.