It’s surely only a matter of time until the UK legalises recreational cannabis. Prejudices surrounding the plant are being dismantled and its therapeutic uses are becoming more well-known by the day, backed up by new scientific research and successful legalisation programs spreading across the U.S and other parts of the world.
In fact, over here in the UK, the use of cannabis-derived CBD oil has exploded over the last five years, with millions now using the non-psychoactive cannabinoid for a variety of reasons.
The UK government has even taken measures to allow the medicinal use of cannabis, contradicting its decades-long stance that cannabis holds no medical value – which itself was a direct contradiction to the World Health Organisation, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and thousands of scientists throughout the world conducting cannabinoid research.
And although our out-of-touch government continues to expound the dangers of high-potency cannabis – so-called ‘skunk’ – it’s inevitable that sooner or later they will acknowledge modern science and stop using outdated propaganda and widely debunked myths to back their sensationalist claims.
However, we could be waiting a few years. When the UK does legalise cannabis for adult use, though, here are 10 things that we can expect to happen…
1. The police will have a lot more time on their hands
Research conducted last year by the Liberal Democrats political party found that one million hours of police time are being wasted each year on enforcing cannabis prohibition.
The official figures reveal that a total of 87,247 police caseloads relating to the drug were opened in 2015, with the average cost to the taxpayer per case estimated at £2,256.
That means a total of £31m and 1,044,180 police hours was spent upholding draconian cannabis laws, all of which could be put to good use following the legalisation of cannabis in the UK.
2. CBD-rich strains will be a lot more common
The CBD industry is booming right now in the UK, and it just goes to show that even without getting you high, cannabis is in high demand.
3. Billions will be taken from the hands of criminals and into the economy
Along with the millions saved from not enforcing cannabis laws, a legal cannabis industry would also see hundreds if not thousands of new jobs created, as well as huge amounts of tax revenue for the government.
Of course, the only ones who do not stand to benefit from cannabis legalisation are the big pharmaceutical companies who make billions from a population addicted to painkillers and antidepressants – the same companies who spend millions lobbying to keep cannabis illegal. Coincidence?
4. Reefer madness will stop
No, smoking cannabis will not turn you into a crazed loon. No, you won’t feel the need to launch yourself through a 4th-storey window. And, no, you will not resort to a life of crime in order to fund your new-found addiction.
There are many myths surrounding cannabis use, the majority of which are so illogical and unintelligent that they are laughable. With legalisation comes education, and a public educated about cannabis will lead us out of the dark ages of fear-mongering and superstition.
5. People will drink less alcohol
A study from last month has discovered that following cannabis legalisation in more than 2,000 US counties, sales of alcohol fell by about 15%. The researchers noted that “marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes”.
The reductions were observed up to 24 months after the change of law, implying that the effect was permanent and not just a reaction to the relaxation of cannabis laws.
With the UK’s binge-drinking culture clearly a problem, cannabis legalisation would surely see many turn away from alcohol, responsible for 33,000 deaths a year in the UK, to cannabis, responsible for 0 deaths. Ever. Anywhere.
6. Cannabis users will be able to dose accurately
Using cannabis to treat certain conditions can require very accurate dosing of cannabinoids. Following legalisation, products that have been tested and standardised, clearly displaying how much of each cannabinoid they contain, to the microgram, will be readily available.
And that’s not even to mention the variety of different products that will be available; think capsules, tablets, inhalers, food and drinks, balms and salves, etc.
7. The use of opioid painkillers will drop
Although opioid use has not reached the crisis level it has in the U.S., the UK has seen a drastic uptick in abuse of the substance over the last decade and we could face a similar situation to the U.S. in the near future.
In Colorado, however, research has found that opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following two years after cannabis legalisation.
8. Cannabis consumers will no longer live in fear of arrest
It’s estimated that there are up to five million cannabis consumers in the UK. Although medical cannabis is now legal, many consumers are eligible or can’t afford legal weed and are, therefore, forced to break the law in order to access cannabis – risking jobs, family, and freedom.
9. The government will make hundreds of millions in taxes
Over in the U.S., a recent study in Denver, Colorado, has found that the state has pulled in $506 million (£374m) since retail sales began in January 2014.
Colorado has spent most of the money on schools. In 2011, a study estimated that the amount of cannabis consumed in the UK between 2004 and 2011 was about 36,579,100 ounces per year – almost 15 times the amount consumed in Colorado.
Assuming that amount can be regulated and taxed, the UK government would make an approximate of £2.4 billion in tax revenue per year from sales alone.
10. The rates of young people smoking weed probably won’t increase
After Colorado legalised recreational cannabis for adults in 2012, many were of the opinion that there would be a sharp increase in use among young people, especially teenagers.
But a survey by the state’s public health department found that, in fact, teenage cannabis use stayed the same. The poll even suggested that high school students in the legal state smoke less weed than the national average.