‘I want the market legalised, regulated and taken away from crime gangs,’ says Labour MP David Lammy after trip to Canada.
A diverse delegation of Members of Parliament from various political parties recently embarked on an enlightening journey to Canada, where they delved into the nation's pioneering legal cannabis market. Among the distinguished figures were David Lammy of the Labour Party, Sir Norman Lamb of the Liberal Democrats, and Conservative MP Jonathan Djanogly. This eye-opening trip was made possible thanks to the proactive efforts of the UK harm reduction group, Volte Face, symbolizing the increasing interest in progressive drug regulation strategies. The primary aim of this delegation's visit was to study Canada's legal cannabis market, a model recently established after the decriminalization of the plant.
“There would be huge benefits if we legalised and regulated cannabis in the same way we do alcohol,” added Mr Smith, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for drug policy reform. “We’d stop wasting police time and resources by criminalising people unnecessarily.”
Encouragingly - and surprisingly, given we rarely hear this point of view from the world of UK politics - these MPs are brimming with optimism, envisioning a future where the United Kingdom follows in Canada's footsteps, potentially achieving full cannabis legalization within the next decade, with some even speculating that this transition could materialize within a mere five years. Sir Norman has become the first serving British MP to openly use a cannabis product on camera after sampling cannabis oil – which unlike its form in the UK included THC – for Newsbeat’s documentary on the Canada trip.
The Lib Dem, who has led his party’s official backing for the legalisation, spoke openly about using cannabis oil for sleeping and for relaxation.
The UK Stance On Cannabis
Currently, non-prescribed cannabis in the United Kingdom bears the unfortunate classification of a Class B drug, with possession carrying the threat of up to five years in prison. However, the UK has been gradually embracing a more enlightened stance on cannabis. Medicinal cannabis products are now legally prescribed to certain patients. This significant shift was propelled by a public outcry, sparked by the heart-breaking denial of cannabis oil to two children suffering from severe epilepsy. Interestingly, in regions where cannabis has been legalized for medicinal use, recreational legalization often follows suit, as it's seen as the next logical step.
Benefits of Cannabis Legalization In The UK:
The benefits of legalizing and regulating cannabis, much like alcohol, are numerous. First and foremost, it relieves the burden on law enforcement by ending the unnecessary criminalization of cannabis users. This approach could also pave the way for job creation, especially in former industrial cities, through the establishment of legal cannabis production facilities, as suggested by Conservative MP Jonathan Djanogly. Furthermore, legalization provides an avenue to empower marginalized and minority communities, fostering social equity and inclusivity. Notably, the Liberal Democrat Party has officially endorsed cannabis legalization in the UK, recognizing the numerous advantages it offers.
Public Opinion Of Cannabis In The UK
Public opinion on cannabis legalization in the UK is a mix of voices. A YouGov poll conducted in 2021 revealed that 48% of respondents supported legalization, while 28% opposed it, with 24% remaining uncertain. In a more recent poll conducted by the same organization in 2022, support for legalization had grown to 53%, while opposition had dropped to 24%. This poll also highlighted that younger individuals were more inclined to support cannabis legalization than their older counterparts, indicating a generational shift in attitudes.
Cannabis Legislation Statistics and Research:
Canada's experience with cannabis legalization in 2018 has led to extensive research on its effects. According to a study by Statistics Canada, more Canadians are accessing cannabis through legal channels. This data, which covers the period before and after the Cannabis Act implementation, indicates an increase in self-reported cannabis consumption and related behaviors. However, it's crucial to note that most Canadians who use cannabis do so for non-medical purposes, and there has been no significant uptick in youth cannabis use. Another study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry emphasizes the need for long-term monitoring and research to assess the impact of legalization on Canadian youth.
Cannabis Comparative Analysis: UK VS USA
The United States, where several states have legalized recreational cannabis, provides valuable insights. A study in the American Journal of Public Health discovered no significant increase in youth cannabis use in states that had legalized recreational cannabis. Similarly, a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found no notable rise in cannabis use disorder among youth in these states. However, it did highlight an increase in the perceived availability of cannabis among young people in legalized states, indicating the importance of responsible regulation.