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Time to legalise cannabis

by jamesbaker on 21 August, 2014

I frequently read in the Courier how the Police have raided houses and caught various people growing cannabis plants. The preferred phrase for such operations is now ‘cannabis factories’ which conjures up images of Blake’s dark satanic mills. On the one hand the Police are to be congratulated on efficiently enforcing the law of the land. However I fear in this case the law really is wrong and ought to change, and using up Police resources to enforce prohibition is a folly.

In Colorado, USA the law has already changed. Cannabis is now legal and is set to raise $134M in taxes in the next financial year. Crime has halved and the criminal justice system has more time to tackle offences that hurt other people. The taxes raised can be used to help provide health services, education and help support people who are addicted to other drugs like alcohol or smoking (which due to social norms we don’t commonly refer to as drugs even though they are).

Legalisation of cannabis has to be an improvement on the current situation where the proceeds of this prohibited plant go to the black market and fund more serious forms of organised crime. That shouldn’t surprise us as the prohibition of alcohol in the US had the same impact, an increase of organised criminal activity.

Prohibition simply doesn’t work. The war on drugs is damaging society, criminalising people who are not really criminals, and wasting millions on enforcement whilst denying lucrative tax revenue that could help repair the hole in the nation’s finances.

More importantly prohibition restricts people’s freedoms and liberty. If people want to consumer a plant such as cannabis society should not criminalise them for doing so. As a liberal I’m a passionate defender of the maxim ‘do what you want so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else’. If someone complains I’m ‘soft on drugs’ so be it, to them I say this: I’m not soft on drugs, I’m strong on liberty.

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