Should weed be legalised in the UK? What are the pros and cons? Feature writer Aaron Nelson discusses.
On Wednesday 31st July, members of Uruguay’s House of Representatives passed a landmark bill to legalise marijuana – if the bill goes on to be approved by the Senate of the county in October, Uruguay will become the first country to fully legalise the drug.
President Jose Mujica has backed the bill, saying that legalising the drug will remove profits from dealers and deter users from harder drugs. The country would be in total control of regulation, distribution, importation and exportation of marijuana, and buyers, who must be over 18, would be registered on a database. They would be able to buy up to 40g a month from special pharmacies, and grow up to 6 of their own marijuana plants at home.
So it seems that the country has put some serious thought into the bill, and it’s made me think – how would a similar change in the law effect the UK?
In the UK, marijuana is currently a Class B drug (deemed to be of moderate risk), and being found in possession of less than 3g of the drug can result in its confiscation and a written warning – so, compared to counties like Syria (where any cannabis offence, from simple use to dealing, can often lead to life imprisonment), we’re pretty laidback.
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So what are the Pros and Cons of legalising cannabis in the UK?
If the government were to follow Uruguay’s lead and take total control of the selling and regulation of cannabis, it would mean serious money for the government; studies show sales of cannabis come in at around 1.5 BILLION per year.
Marijuana has been proven to have medical benefits to illnesses such as SOME cancers, AIDS and glaucoma. While medical cannabinoids are already available, mass availability of cannabis would surely lead to more positive statics for the management of those diseases.
While marijuana has its downsides (such as hallucinations and paranoia), the drug generally is just as bad as alcohol or cigarettes.
Cannabis often acts as a “stepping-stone” drug; users of cannabis are more likely to experiment further with more dangerous drugs, such as cocaine or heroin.
As with any drug, the more you take, the more you want. Widespread distribution of cannabis could lead to an increase of crimes such as theft, in order for users to obtain more. There is also always the chance that the legalisation of one drug, in this case cannabis, could lead to the legalisation of other drugs.
The health issues cannabis can bring: It can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain which can lead to short-term memory loss and the slowing of the ability to learn, in men it can lead to a loss of testosterone and a low sperm count and marijuana use can lead to increase anxiety, irritability, paranoia etc.
So it’s a mixed bag of good and bad.
No doubt that at some point in the future the UK will debate seriously on whether or not cannabis should be legalised.
Does more money for the country justify making the drug (of which its health effects are just as bad as tobacco and alcohol) available to a larger audience?