Updated: Oct 12
The worlds pants were pulled down by media and government propaganda long ago, and anyone with half a brain can see they never stopped. It's time that changed.
The Misuse of Drugs Act has fundamentally failed, and has caused far more harm than the smell of cannabis ever could. While many countries around the world are changing their drug laws to be more progressive, the UK government is dragging us backwards. The recent proposal to reclassify cannabis as a Class A substance, placing it alongside heroin and cocaine in the highest category, is a prime example of this. However, the truth about cannabis is clear if you see through the UK smokescreen.
Media Influence and Propaganda
The media has played a significant role in shaping public perception of cannabis. During the era of "Reefer Madness" in the 1930s, sensationalist media propagated exaggerated claims about the supposed dangers of cannabis, furthering the negative stereotype. In later decades, the "War on Drugs" narrative perpetuated by some media outlets reinforced the idea that cannabis was a dangerous gateway drug, rather than a potential medicinal tool. The emergence of advocacy groups such as High And Polite, Leafie and many others, plus medical professionals, and legal reform efforts has contributed to the dissemination of accurate information about cannabis's health benefits. The public now has access to a growing body of research that highlights its potential in areas such as pain management, epilepsy treatment, and more. The role of the media, too, has evolved, with some outlets promoting balanced discussions about cannabis - although these are far and few, with both Google News and Apple News dominated by prohibitionist articles at around 98%. Accusations of governments suppressing information about cannabis's potential health benefits have historical roots. The Schedule I classification of cannabis, a category typically reserved for substances with no accepted medical use, has hindered research and limited access to scientific data on its medicinal properties. This classification has been challenged, as research increasingly demonstrates cannabis's therapeutic value. The perpetuation of a stigma surrounding cannabis users, characterized by negative stereotypes and misconceptions, may have been fuelled by influential stakeholders in Big Pharma such as Blackrock & Vanguard - who continue to benefit from a continued negative perception of the plant. This stigma has made it challenging to dispel misconceptions and promote evidence-based discussions about cannabis's health benefits.
Cannabis is a Safe and Commonly Used Drug
30% of adults in England and Wales have used cannabis at least once, and although comparative figures for Scotland aren’t available, it’s likely that the rate is similar north of the Border. It’s a commonly used and relatively safe plant – significantly safer than alcohol and tobacco – and the majority of health complications resulting from its consumption are related to either the tobacco content when smoked or impurities as a result of dodgy dealers.
The prospects of legalizing cannabis in the UK bring with them a wealth of economic opportunities. A thriving legal cannabis industry could pave the way for the creation of new jobs in areas such as cultivation, distribution, and retail. Moreover, the tax revenue generated from this budding industry could be channelled towards bolstering essential public services, infrastructure development, and comprehensive drug education programs. According to a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs, the annual tax windfall from cannabis legalization in the UK could reach an impressive £3.5 billion. Additionally, the report suggests that this move could foster the generation of up to 100,000 new job opportunities throughout the country. Nonetheless, it's important to note that there are opposing voices who emphasize potential risks and challenges, including concerns related to increased drug use and addiction, as well as matters regarding public health and regulatory complexities.
Cannabis is safer than alcohol and tobacco
While the UK government has demonized cannabis, the truth is that it is a relatively safe drug compared to legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. According to the NHS, cannabis is less addictive than tobacco and less harmful than alcohol.
In contrast to tobacco, which is known for its highly addictive nature due to the presence of nicotine, cannabis exhibits a lower addiction potential. While some individuals may develop a dependency on cannabis, the overall rate of addiction is notably lower than that of tobacco. This observation raises questions about the rationale behind the differing legal statuses of these two substances and calls for a re-evaluation of their relative risks. Beyond addiction potential, the comparative safety of cannabis extends to the physical and social harms associated with its use. Alcohol, a legal and widely accepted substance, is linked to a range of health problems, including liver disease, accidents, and addiction. In contrast, cannabis carries a lower risk of harm, particularly when consumed responsibly. This juxtaposition underscores the need for a more nuanced discussion on drug policy, focusing on harm reduction rather than blanket prohibition. A global perspective is essential when assessing the safety of cannabis. In many countries, including some U.S. states and Canada, the legalization and regulation of cannabis have not resulted in the dire consequences that were once feared and in fact has had a positive effect in nearly every sector since cannabis was legalised recreationally. These international case studies offer valuable insights into the potential benefits of adopting a more lenient stance towards cannabis.
Cannabis has medicinal benefits
Cannabis, often relegated to the shadows, has emerged as a potential beacon of hope in the realm of medicine, offering a multitude of therapeutic benefits for various conditions. Despite its proven potential to alleviate suffering, the UK government's recognition of these advantages has lagged, creating substantial barriers for patients in dire need of medical cannabis. Cannabis has been shown to have medicinal benefits for a range of conditions, including chronic pain, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, as well as PTSD, anxiety, depression and palliative (end of life) care.. However, the UK government has been slow to recognize these benefits and has made it difficult for patients to access medical cannabis.
Legalization would have economic benefits
Legalizing cannabis would generate significant tax revenue, which could be used to fund public services such as healthcare and education2. It would also reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, freeing up resources to focus on more serious crimes.
The legalization of cannabis holds the promise of substantial economic benefits, offering a path to generate significant tax revenue and relieve the burden on the criminal justice system. This transformative step not only has the potential to enhance public services but also to foster a more efficient and just society.
Tax Revenue Generation: Legalizing cannabis opens the door to a new revenue stream for governments. Taxation of cannabis sales can generate substantial income that can be allocated to support crucial public services, including healthcare and education. These funds can be directed toward improving healthcare infrastructure, providing better access to quality education, and addressing other societal needs. In states and countries where cannabis has been legalized, tax revenue has proven to be a valuable financial resource.
Reduced Criminal Justice Expenditure: The criminalization of cannabis has historically imposed a considerable burden on the criminal justice system. Law enforcement resources, court time, and correctional facilities have been utilized in prosecuting and incarcerating individuals for non-violent cannabis-related offenses. Legalization allows these resources to be redirected toward more serious crimes, potentially leading to increased efficiency and better allocation of law enforcement efforts.
Reduction in Black Market Activity: Legalization can disrupt the illegal cannabis market, undermining criminal enterprises that profit from the sale of illicit substances. By bringing cannabis into the legal sphere, regulated and taxed, it diminishes the demand for black market products and strengthens consumer protection. This reduction in black market activity contributes to the overall safety and security of communities.
Economic Growth and Job Creation: The legal cannabis industry has the potential to stimulate economic growth by creating jobs in various sectors, such as cultivation, distribution, and retail. A thriving industry can offer employment opportunities for individuals across a wide spectrum of skill sets. This job creation, in turn, benefits local economies and provides financial stability for countless families.
Public Opinion and Support: Public opinion is increasingly supportive of cannabis legalization, in part due to the economic benefits it promises. As citizens recognize the potential to fund essential services and stimulate local economies, their enthusiasm for legalization grows. This support can be leveraged to drive policy changes at the legislative level.
Cannabis legalization is not only a means to unlock new sources of revenue but also an avenue to streamline the criminal justice system, reduce the black market, and stimulate economic growth. The benefits extend beyond the immediate financial gains to encompass improvements in public services, crime prevention, and job creation. By recognizing and capitalizing on the economic potential of cannabis legalization, governments can work toward a more prosperous and equitable future for their citizens.
Cannabis criminalisation disproportionately affects marginalized communities
The criminalization of cannabis has disproportionately affected communities of colour and low-income individuals2. Legalization would help to address these inequalities and create a more just and equitable society. The enforcement of cannabis laws has been characterized by racial disparities, with individuals from minority communities experiencing higher arrest and incarceration rates for non-violent cannabis-related offenses. This disproportionate impact not only disrupts the lives of those directly affected but also perpetuates systemic racism within the criminal justice system. Legalization offers an opportunity to rectify these historical injustices, expunge prior convictions, and provide a path to reconciliation. Low-income individuals and communities have also been disproportionately affected by cannabis criminalization. The burden of legal consequences, such as arrests and convictions, can hinder employment prospects, access to education, and housing opportunities. Legalization not only removes these barriers but can also generate economic opportunities through the legal cannabis industry. This industry has the potential to create jobs, stimulate local economies, and provide a source of revenue for public services.
The Failure of the Misuse of Drugs Act
It couldn’t be clearer – the Misuse of Drugs Act has fundamentally failed, and has caused far more harm than the smell of cannabis ever could. The Act has led to the criminalization of millions of people, disproportionately affecting communities of colour and low-income individuals. It has also created a black market for drugs, leading to increased violence and organized crime. The UK government's proposal to reclassify cannabis as a Class A substance is a step in the wrong direction and will only exacerbate these problems.
The truth about cannabis is clear – it is a very safe and commonly used, natural medicine that has been unfairly demonized by the UK and US government alike. The Misuse of Drugs Act has failed, and it is time for a new approach to drug policy. Legalizing cannabis would have numerous benefits and would be a step in the right direction towards a more just and equitable society. What we need is an informed public without the media propaganda, further research into this wonderful, natural and God-given plant, and regulation so it cannot be accessed by those under the age of 21 without a medical prescription.
References and Citations:
Statista. (n.d.). Share of adults who have used cannabis in England and Wales in 2020, by age group. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1041953/share-of-adults-who-have-used-cannabis-in-england-and-wales-by-age-group/
Transform Drug Policy Foundation. (n.d.). Cannabis. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from https://transformdrugs.org/drug-information/cannabis/
Naval Postgraduate School. (n.d.). Paraphrasing and Quoting: Bulleted and Numbered Lists. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from https://nps.edu/documents/111693070/112865214/Citing+Bulleted+and+Numbered+Lists.pdf/844de251-5e2d-4a29-a2bc-9c839ceccbbc?t=1541721381000
APA Style. (2023, September 19). Bulleted lists. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/lists/bulleted
Indeed. (2023, July 7). How To List References on a Resume (With Examples). Retrieved October 12, 2023, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/resume-reference-list