The Arguments for and Against Decriminalising Cannabis in the UK

Do you think cannabis should be legalised in the UK? Take a look at both sides of the argument here…

It is illegal to buy, sell, possess or cultivate cannabis in the UK. If you are caught in possession of cannabis, you may be punished with up to five years in prison, and up to fourteen years for production and supply. Additionally, if you are caught with Class B drugs, you can receive an immediate £90 fine from the police with much more serious fines for supplying.

Despite this, cannabis is considered the most popular illegal drug in the UK, with over 10 million adults between the ages on 16 and 64 having tried the drug at least once according to the BBC and annual crime survey.

So why is this drug illegal and should it stay this way? There are many different opinions regarding the decriminalisation of cannabis in the UK. Below is a breakdown of the arguments for both legalising the use of cannabis and keeping it illegal…

Should Cannabis be Decriminalised in the UK?

Many people in the UK believe that cannabis should be decriminalised and there are a lot of arguments for this. This Includes its use in medicine and the ability to have more control over production and distribution. However, others believe that, due to cannabis being highly addictive and a gateway drug, it should stay illegal.

Here are the key arguments for each side…

Arguments for Decriminalising Cannabis

1.    The Ability to Implement Better Regulation

Despite the fact that cannabis is currently illegal in the UK, millions of people still use it each year. This cannabis is bought off the street and there is no way to know if it contains harmful substances or poses serious risk to those who are buying it.

By decriminalising cannabis, there is the opportunity to gain better control of the distribution and cultivation of the drug. This includes safety precautions like product testing, regulating potency, and more restriction on who is able to buy the drug, for example under eighteens.

2.    Cannabis is No Worse Than Alcohol or Tobacco

Many believe that cannabis is no more dangerous or addictive than alcohol. Because of this, it could be considered immoral and hypocritical for the government to allow drugs like alcohol and tobacco but make the use of cannabis illegal.

In fact, cannabis is known to have health benefits and is regularly prescribed by doctors to prevent things like epilepsy or glaucoma.

Tobacco, in particular, is considered more addictive and damaging than cannabis, yet it is available in every supermarket. Many people find it strange that so many addictive and damaging drugs are legalised, but the line is drawn at cannabis.

3.    Economic Benefits of Decriminalising Cannabis

Another argument for the legalisation of cannabis is that it would allow for more controlled and taxed markets that are likely to bring money into the economy. The cannabis industry is also very large and growing quickly. This means that legalising cannabis can open up the opportunity for both skilled and unskilled jobs.

4.    Reducing the Amount of Money Going to Gangs and Criminal Organisations

By taking the production and distribution of cannabis away from criminal organisation the influence and power of these groups can be dramatically reduced. Significantly damaging the revenue stream of these organisations can prevent may things like aggressive selling tactics, drug pushing and illegally shipping or smuggling cannabis into the country through dangerous methods.

5.    Make it Easier to Get Help

By decriminalising cannabis, you open up a conversation that will allow people suffering with addictions to feel safe coming forward and receiving help and support. Instead of being arrested, individuals who are unwell due to drugs like cannabis can be directed to legitimate programs that can help them recover.

Arguments Against Decriminalising Cannabis

1.    It can be Bad for Your Health

Despite its uses in medicine, smoking or consuming cannabis recreationally is not very good for the body. It can have negative effects on the brain, lungs and heart as well as putting you at high risk of accidents.

There is a higher risk of developing schizophrenia, depression, and other mental health issues for regular cannabis users. On top of this, it’s addictive nature can make it very dangerous for younger people.

2.    Increasing the Number of People Using Cannabis

The legalisation of cannabis will increase the number of people who regularly use the drug. Cannabis is addictive and, like tobacco, its users can for a dependency which will then lead to withdrawal symptoms and other side effects like anxiety.

By making cannabis more readily available, there is the risk of exposing more people to this drug, leading to many more addictions.

3.    Increasing the Profits of Drug Gangs and Criminal Organisations

Some people believe that the legalisation of cannabis will help reduce the influence of drug gangs. However, it is also a possibility that these gangs may just see a large boost in profits as their product becomes legal.

It is also believed that legalising cannabis will increase the number of crimes being committed as the number of drug users increases.

4.    Cannabis as a Gateway Drug

Commonly known as a gateway drug, the use of cannabis has been tied to the use of harder drugs, with people much more likely to engage in more extreme drugs like heroin after trying cannabis first. This makes cannabis much more dangerous, especially if it became legal.

5.    Deterring People from Using Drugs

Although there are many cannabis drug users in the UK, some people believe that the criminalisation of the drug deters people from using in the first place. This is due to the fear of consequences like fines, and prison time, which many people would rather not risk.

On top of this, the need to hide possession from the police, airport security or bouncer when going to a venue is a great deterrent.

The Decriminalisation of Cannabis in the UK

The topic of decriminalising the use of cannabis in the UK is interesting because here are many arguments for and against both viewpoints. From making it easier to get help with addictions and implementing safer regulations by legalising cannabis, to increasing the number of users and mental health issues, each side has a fair argument.

There is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that a good partition of the UK’s population would be happy with a reducing in the restrictions regarding cannabis. However, with the two largest political parties still very much in favour of keeping cannabis illegal in the UK, it doesn’t appear like there will be any drastic changes in the near future.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only. Be sure to consult a lawyer if you have been arrested due to drugs like cannabis. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

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