Legalising cannabis will create jobs – and save lives
The moral case for drug reform is inarguable. Fifty years of prohibition have not led to a decline in addiction and deaths – on the contrary, drug-related deaths in England and Wales hit a record high this year and have been rising for the past eight, while in Scotland they are higher than anywhere in Europe.
A sixth of inmates are in prison for drug offences, to say nothing of those whose crimes are linked to their addiction. The hypocrisy, when multiple members of the Cabinet – including the Prime Minister – have admitted to their own drug use is staggering.
At the same time, while UK law technically changed in 2018 to allow medicinal cannabis in some very specific circumstances, the regulations imposed by an establishment petrified of being considered “soft” on drugs are so strict that the vast majority of desperate patients – from epileptic children to people battling cancer – cannot access it.
Even politicians who are unsure about fully decriminalising all drugs know our cannabis laws are a disaster. They know it is wrong to condemn someone to a criminal record for possession of a drug that is less harmful (to the user and to society) than alcohol or tobacco, just like they know sending people to prison, where they are more likely to become dependent on far more harmful drugs than they are on the outside, is fuelling the UK’s spiralling addiction crisis. That’s why they keep changing their minds once they are no longer in power.
If we are to “follow the science” and “save lives”, to use our Prime Minister’s favoured terms, we need a different way to make the case to the public. And as the party of business, sound finance and entrepreneurship, the Conservatives are the ones to do it.