The exploration of hemp as a natural resource seems to have gone untouched for sometime as it is too risky a commodity to purchase and hold when the maximum THC content allowed by law is quite low. The government could benefit from legalizing the sale of hemp cigarettes in controlled doses that are higher than the maximum THC percentage allowed, but still much lower than the THC content of the 'skunk' variety of marijuana that can be purchased from drug dealers. Cannabis is often called a 'gateway drug', meaning that people who smoke it are more likely to go on to experiment with harder drugs. This may be, but I can't help but wonder the extent to which that 'gateway' is facilitated merely by the fact that "drugs", whether they be hard drugs like heroine and cocaine, or soft drugs like marijuana, are sold by drug dealers. I imagine it's like going into the supermarket just to get milk. If you have to walk past everything else to get to the milk, you rarely come out with just milk.
I'm confident that low grade cannabis can be grown and processed quickly and effectively on existing land and in the current climate. I would suggest a nationalised project creating employment opportunities for farmers, florists, factory workers and managers. The existing industry of hemp clothing and apparel could then source their hemp from British farmers, and a taboo new tobacco alternative (maybe you can give me a figure of how many people die per annum due to cannabis use?) for which the government recieves the revenue (if it is nationalised) AND the VAT, as well as earning good favour with the people by creating employment, might be good for the economy.
Hemp is currently used in personal hygeine products that are sold in the UK, but I would be surprised to find that it is grown or processed here. I have read that hemp can also be used for the nutritional value of the seeds, used as building material, the shives used for animal bedding and horticultural mulch, fibres used as textile materials and it can also apparantly be used to make biofuel. This means that every part of the plant can be used and wastage should be very minimal. The hemp industry that already operates in this country will have the opportunity to reduce it's carbon footprint by sourcing locally, and the government will have the opportunity to reduce the debt crisis by making some money out of being the ones growing and selling all the hemp!
Why is this idea important?
A lot of people are out of work and the government doesn’t seem to want to spend what it has on sorting that out. This idea could potentially be carried out a very low cost and would create employment while making rather than costing money for the government.
It could be argued that much of the allure of experimenting with illegal substances stems from their consumption being forbidden by a higher power. People who already smoke cannabis illegally are unlikely to continue purchasing from drug dealers if the element of perceived rebellion is removed by the ability to buy the product cheaper in a shop or several places approved legally.
I believe the government benefits from the VAT paid on goods in supermarkets for example, and having worked in one until recently, I am aware that supermarkets often put their displays of flowers at the very front of thestore to create a welcoming visual and olfactory experience. I imagine the cannabis flower can be very fragrant, and pictures online would suggest quite beautiful. Again, an exotic new flower that was previously against the rules to own will get people into the supermarket that might not have been otherwise.
It’s important to mention that the government would not have to be seen to be taking a soft stance on drugs to carry this out. There would be age restrictions, a lower THC restriction than on the street, and it may get a few people off the streets or out of drug dealer’s houses and in to work.