Our friends across the pond have seemed to hop on the trend of legalising one of the world’s least harmful drugs. The UK has often debated whether or not the legalisation of marijuana would be useful in society. Whilst many think that the fact it isn’t already is ridiculous, others seem to take the opinion that once “the devil’s lettuce” is legalized this country is bound to head into a downwards spiral. In today’s blog I’m showcasing the arguments which I think best explain the two opposing positions.
One of the strongest arguments for the legalisation of marijuana is because of the fact that it’s the most widely used illegal drug in the UK, selling it is a huge market solely controlled by gangs and gang culture. It’s impossible to tell exactly how much money they are making because obviously they aren’t paying tax on it and registering it. However, the most conservative estimate that I could find for how much money legalisation would raise in taxes was £1bn (not to mention the jobs it would create, and save the tax payer money on police resources as well as taxes spent on the judicial system and prisons). Another strong argument for the legalisation of "weed" is the fact that in many circles it is considered less harmful than alcohol. For example, you can die within five minutes of binge drinking, however no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. Although some do experience anxiety and panic attacks, it’s impossible to die from marijuana alone. Alcohol can interact with medication that’s already in your body, which may cause an accidental overdose or slow down the drug’s effectiveness, "weed" doesn’t have this problem. Excessive alcohol use can lead to liver cancer as well as many other health problems, and thus far the only suggested impact of marijuana (not yet proven) could be issues with reproduction. There are no known medical benefits for alcohol consumption, however there are many known medicinal uses for marijuana. Compounds found it directly treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and many other diseases.
However, there are other arguments that suggest its legalisation could be a detriment to society. It’s a fact of life that anyone can become addicted to anything, and it’s suggested that 10% of regular cannabis users become addicted and can even experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using the drug. In a society where there are already so many issues with alcohol and tobacco addiction do we really need to add another vice into the mix? By legalising we are only encouraging it’s use and the rate at which people are getting addicted. Furthermore, unlike alcohol, it is incredibly hard to verify whether or not someone is “over the limit” or “too stoned” to drive. One case in Massachusetts (a state in the US where recreational use is legal) proves this. A driver was pulled over for having his tail lights off, and when the police officer approached the vehicle he said he could smell marijuana and could see it in the car. Whilst the driver was able to count backwards from 72 to 65 and recite the alphabet from D to Q, he was unable to stand on one leg for long and do 9 steps and turn. Because of this he was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, which his lawyer has been fighting for months. There’s no clear scientific consensus for driving under the influence of marijuana because the problem is so modern, and even though the amount of crashes that happen under the influence of cannabis is incredibly slight (akin to driving in the dark compared to driving in the light), if someone could get away with a crime and it was convenient for them, they’d probably be more likely to commit it. We already have a problem with drunk drivers, should we be adding "stoners" to the road?
I’m sure the debate will continue for years to come, and with the younger generations generally pushing for its legalisation I don’t think it’s crazy to say that we could be looking at legalisation within the next decade. When asked whether or not marijuana should be available recreationally 33.4% of Viewsbankers said yes, 20.8% said no and 37.7% said it should only be available medicinally.
Some of our favourite comments were:
- “Yes, it should be allowed in the UK, this will stop crimes and also help people who has who actually need it for medical reasons”
- “I would rather be a stoner than an alcoholic, that's for sure. Alcohol destroys you, but marijuana relaxes you. The CBD helps relax muscular functions and the THC helps you mentally feel relaxed and helps calm you and bring you back during depression.”
- “I believe in a society that helps each other to become better in every way, using anything that detracts from that is, for me, a hinderance, not a help.”
- “The "each to their own" comment is pretty much how I feel about it too... I am quite happy for people to impair themselves in any way they see fit, as long as it doesn't impinge on other people.”
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!