I am a degree level educated, 32 year old, self employed website designer. Until a few years ago I was a regular cannabis user, but when I met my now wife I decided to cutback drastically and I now only smoke once in a while.  Like many cannabis users I began smoking while still at school, but this did not stop me becoming Head Boy of the school, getting 9 GCSE’s, going on to college, then on to University, employment and now self-employment (at which I am very successful, even in the current economic climate).  The reason I mention all this is simply to show that, like many of my contemporaries, cannabis use has not stopped me leading a very fulfilling life… though, in the eyes of the law, it has made me a criminal.

The main point of my letter is to lay out what I feel could seriously help our struggling economy, take pressure off our overstretched Police Force and take money away from the criminals who currently profit millions from otherwise law-abiding citizens. What I am talking about of course, is a change in the laws on cannabis. I believe there are a number of a very strong arguments to favour of new legislation and very few against.

Economic gains

Currently the Government are not only missing out on millions of pounds in tax, but that money is going directly to organised criminal gangs and terrorist networks. Senator Schwarzenegger is currently considering a debate as to whether it is time to reassess the current laws on Cannabis use. They estimate that this could be bring in some $1.4 billion in taxes per year, let alone the considerable savings in Law Enforcement etc.

Law Enforcement Savings

The overstretched Police Force in the UK could seriously benefit from a relaxation in the law. I am not aware of the figures, but I am sure a considerable percentage of the Police Forces budget is spent on Cannabis related crimes. Surely this money would be better spent going after criminals dealing in hard drugs?

Medical Use

Cannabis is a herb and like many other herbs it has some fantastic medical benefits. The list of these benefits are too many to mention in full, but the most worthy of note I feel are: Alzheimer's, Cancer (Lung, Breast and Brain), HIV/AIDS, Opiate dependency, Spasticity In Multiple Sclerosis and the list goes on.

The main medical benefit is that cannabis alleviates pain for many people – which means currently we are denying many thousands of people access to a (natural) drug that could make their lives that much more bearable. Though there are synthesised versions of cannabis available to some patients, the costs of these drugs (to the tax payer) is far more than if people were able to use normal cannabis.

Drop in Alcohol Use

Visit any UK town on a Friday or Saturday night and you will see the damage alcohol is doing to our society – and visiting the A&E Department shows the aftermath. If those same people causing problems on the streets had been using cannabis instead there would be very few problems. The complete lack of control drinking causes makes it an incredibly dangerous drug and many say that if it were to have only just been discovered it would undoubtedly be a dangerous Class A.

Drug Association

Many people refer to Cannabis as a 'gateway' drug that leads to users experimenting with other illegal drugs. Not only do I agree with it, I am a victim of it too – I've tried many other illegal drugs that I probably wouldn't have done if the cannabis wasn't grouped with other harder drugs. There are 2 main reasons for this – firstly, many drug dealers often sell other drugs along with cannabis. Secondly, the current law makes people group cannabis with other harder drugs, when in fact it is very different and far less harmful (as confirmed by Medical Research Council). We need to break this association with education.

Knock-on effects

If laws were relaxed it would increase development of various hemp-related technologies including:

  • Ethanol Production – Hemp is incredibly good for making bio-fuels
  • MDF – The Fibrous nature of Hemp makes it perfect for building materials. During WW2 there was the famous 'Hemp for Victory' film which encouraged US farmers to grow hemp.
  • Other Medicines – there may be many more useful benefits to Hemp that we have yet to discover.

Many people worry about what effect a relaxation of law would have on society, yet you only need to take a look at it's success in the Netherlands to see the benefits. Dutch policymakers believe that if a problem has proved to be unsolvable, it is better to try controlling it and reducing harm instead of continuing to enforce laws with mixed results. They clearly see the difference between 'hard' and 'soft' drugs.

Coffeshop Culture

Currently Holland, in particular Amsterdam, benefit greatly from tourism due to their relaxed laws on cannabis. The UK would see a huge rise in tourism if it were to adopt similar laws, which would mean a huge amount of extra monye for the economy.

Why is this idea important?

I think a relaxation of the current laws on cannabis would benefit virtually everyone in the country, in many varying ways. Extra revenue created by such measures could be used to fight real crime including that of hard drugs. Recent studies have shown cannabis to be far less harmful that many legal drugs and the current cost of enforcement seems like a waste of tax payers money.

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