Along the lines of the other ideas laid out in this category, legalising, regulating and taxing cannabis has far many advantages than disadvantages.
Why does this idea matter?
Cannabis has been PROVEN repeatedly to have fewer harmful side effects than 99% of legal pharmaceutical drugs today.
Alcohol, for example, is a legal drug that is among the highest causes of death in the world. Yet it is legal and regulated. Prohibition on alcohol failed spectacularly.
Regulated and legalised cannabis has many positive effects on our communities and – moreover – on our economy. With the government cutting spending and trying to save money wherever they can, surely it makes sense to create a new revenue stream through the creation of a legitimate cannabis industry.
The negative effects of legalisation are trivial when compared to the positives, for example:
Cannabis causes intoxication (like alcohol). However, the effects of THC on the system are positively healthy when compared to the effects of alcohol, which is legal.
Cannabis is widely accepted as a legitimate medical treatment for ailments ranging from Multiple Sclerosis and Arthritis to AIDS and even cancer. Cannabis has been PROVEN as an effective treatment of certain cancers, and is widely used as a treatment to combat the side effects of chemotherapy.
The medical disadvantages of cannabis of any strength are few. There has, in recorded history, never been a SINGLE death directly attributed to cannabis (excluding reckless behaviour while intoxicated, of course). Alcohol and tobacco are responsible for millions of deaths per year.
The legalisation of cannabis CREATES JOBS in the already struggling agricultural sector, allowing controlled and regulated farms to grow and manufacture cannabis products for both medicinal and recreational consumption.
The legalisation of cannabis COMBATS CRIME on a large scale. It is true that cannabis is viewed as a 'gateway drug', but this is only because underworld drug dealers (being the only place to get cannabis) will push more profitable drugs upon their 'customers'. Legalising cannabis will not erradicate the drug problem, but it WILL reduce it, by taking the demand for petty drug dealers out of the equation. This would make it extremely more difficult for our children to access more dangerous drugs.
Regulated Cannabis helps the ECONOMY. All sectors of the industry would, of course, be taxed. The US state of California has added USD1 BILLION to it's legitimate economy through medical cannabis alone, and a ballot is due in November 2010 for the full legalisation of recreational cannabis as well.
Taxes and excises on cannabis would still keep prices lower than would be worthwhile for a drug dealer, but would boost the economy by potentially billions of pounds.
Legal cannabis will lower the burden on the NHS, allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis as an alternative to more expensive drug treatments in certain ailments.
Currently, OPIATES are perfectly legal within the framework of the medical community. These are 'medicines' that cause more health issues than they cure, creating a giant burden on the NHS. Opiates misused are a major cause of death both inside and outside the medical community.
Cannabis has none of the dangers of opiates, but all of the advantages of medicines. Certainly, I am not proposing that cannabis replace all medicines, but it SHOULD be available as a treatment option to people suffering from hideous illnesses. The illegality of cannabis currently deprives people of effective treatment in certain ailments. This is not fair.
In summary, cannabis should be legalised for both medical and recreational consumption on a number of grounds. A libertarian view is that we should have the right to choose what we do to ourselves if we are informed about the choices we make. Cannabis and drug use should be a HEALTH issue, and NOT a justice issue.
Free up the justice system for REAL criminals, eliminate the drug dealers, boost the economy, create jobs, regulate quality control, give the NHS more treatment options, and reduce alcohol consumption all in one simple sweep of the pen.
The ONLY reasons to maintain prohibition on a plant such as cannabis are the protection of giant corporate pharmaceutical interests. And THIS government seems to have the balls to stand up to that.
Do we WANT drug dealers targeting our children? Remove the 'gateway drug' and remove the criminal underworld. Transfer billions of pounds from an illegitimate economy to the legitimate economy, which desperately needs it.