Each and every time the subject of cannabis legalisation in the UK is brought up, you can’t help but get a feeling of deja-vu. The reason being that the same debate has been raging for years, the same obvious benefits are common knowledge and the same stupid arguments against the idea are still perpetuated by Westminster types who still think we’re living in the 1930s.
The thing is though, ever since weed was made legal in Colorado and summarily became a global talking point that can no longer be swept under the rug, those that have for decades insisted legal weed leads to anarchy are slowly but surely running out of things to say. They told us that legal weed would destroy society – Colorado is doing better than ever. They tell us it’ll cripple the NHS – public health in Colorado is booming. And of course they say it will lead to far more smokers and drug users emerging – stats from Colorado suggest the exact opposite.
So, once again we’re finding ourselves in the midst of a debate which really only has one side for all involved parties. But what’s more depressing than anything else is that it’s coming down to the everyday person on the street to tell those that are supposed to be doing what’s best for us about the ways in which both they and we would be so much better off if common sense were to prevail.
Or if not common sense, how about real democracy? Why not just put the damn subject to a public vote and see what the UK wants – isn’t that how things are supposed to work?
2.4 Billion Reasons
It’s always a bit of a shame when you have to bring things down to hard currency to formulate an argument, but money talks and b******t walks. Let’s be honest, if the UK government wasn’t interested in money above and beyond every other concern, there’s no way tobacco would still be legal. After all, what are the proven health benefits of cigarettes?
Exactly – there aren’t any.
Which is what makes the whole weed thing so much more difficult to digest. Here’s an asset that’s been proven in its effectiveness against all manner of conditions and diseases, which also happens to be massively less harmful and addictive than tobacco. Add into the mix the fact that weed taxation could bring in a massive £2.4 billion in tax revenues to the UK’s economy each and every year and you almost start tearing your hair out with frustration…WAKE UP!
Now, in the grand scheme of things £2.4 billion doesn't sound like a great deal – government types are always making mention of stupid sums of cash that eventually end up making no sense. But to put it into a few real-world examples just to illustrate what we’re missing out on, this £2.4 billion in tax revenue every year could put nearly 110,000 new police cars on the streets AND keep them running for four years. Alternatively, it could pay for over 10.5 million overnight hospital stays, or see a further 110,000 teachers put into work.
Or if you’d prefer, it could help pay the bills of millions elderly UK residents who are finding themselves having to either live in freezing cold homes or starve half to death having not been able to afford both food and fuel during this current economic crisis.
The Savings Go On
If that’s where it all came to an end, things would be bad enough, but there’s one more thing to take into account that’s just as infuriating. Over the past decade, there have been on average around 1,150 cannabis-related custodial sentences handed out in the UK for ‘offences’ of all shapes and sizes. The costs of looking after a single inmate for a year comes in at around the £45,000 mark, which in turn means we’re spending well over £50 million each year on what’s clearly a redundant cause. Prisons overcrowded, manpower wasted and money burned.
In terms of the legal processes required to get these people tried and convicted in the first place, you can add another £512 million to the tally. Yes, it’s all just a bunch of figures and money doesn’t count for everything, but what’s uniquely irritating in this case is the way in which these massive savings are guaranteed, evidence suggests the public would be far better off with weed being made legal and yet we’re still being handed the same tired and dated excuses as we were two decades ago.
Common sense dictates that to ignore all of this is simply to delay the inevitable; if the current government refuses to see sense, a future government surely will. While all this added cash isn’t likely to revolutionise the way the UK operates, it’s certainly a bigger step in the right direction than anything else we’ve got realistic access to right now.