Will the UK Follow Suit with Cannabis Legalisation?

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The legalisation of cannabis is something that has seen rapid progress in the last two decades. The dawn of a new generation, and the uprising of millennials into ranks of power and influence, have seen long-established mindsets challenged and overthrown. Every side to the conversation can be examined in the United States of America, where the laws of many states now stand at odds with those of the national government.

Since the turn of the century, the debate surrounding cannabis has heated to the point where change is inevitable. However, in the United Kingdom where power rests wholly in a single governing body, the future is much harder to predict.

A Time For Change

Far from the monopoly on thought which guided the age of temptations, determining alcohol, marijuana and other drugs as the sole perpetrator of all social ills, people are now taking more initiative in their opinions. This is a time of questioning, and the inquisition it has led on stale regulations has done wonders for the cannabis industry.

In the US, at least some form of cannabis can now be sold in thirty-five states. In fifteen of these - though the specific laws vary - it has been legalised for recreational use. Over half the European nations have been converted to some degree of leniency, whether it's full legalisation or that of the medical variety.

A Global Network

The internet has been a key factor in the cannabis movement. From beginnings necessarily shady, many high-standing businesses have sprung up selling either the herb itself or its associated paraphernalia.

Nowadays, depending on national law, the web – especially in the US – has proven itself a very reliable source for cannabis users, and a grand contributor to the national economy. While the sale of marijuana is still laden with taxes, and struggles beneath an infamous shadow, that of the equipment which comes with it is flourishing. One can now purchase a wide array of high-quality smoking utensils from online Headshops such as smokecartel.com, and have these products shipped straight to their doorstep.

United By Law

The United Kingdom has been historically harsh in its views on cannabis; though over half the population want the herb fully legalized, the government’s stance appears rigid. However, recent times saw three MPs take a visit to Canada – one of the most famously marijuana-friendly countries. On their return home, they were singing a different tune to the rest of the government and their respective parties.

The general consensus among the majority of the English government is that cannabis is a drug which causes harm to society, and to families. Some politicians have advocated for its legality, including Sir Norman Lamb – MP for North Norfolk, David Lammy – MP for Tottenham and Jonathan Djanogly – MP for Huntington. The former writes on his visit to Canada:
‘…there will be many experiences and lessons to be gathered from Canada and other countries that have legalised. We should start that learning process now.’

What appears to be a strong point in both arguments is that of the illegal market. While it casts a dark shadow on the overarching cannabis industry and movement, its existence depends on the illegality of the drug. Many MPs have broached the subject that perhaps legalisation would enable the government to gain more control over this problem.

Cannabis is listed on the UK government’s website as a class B drug. By the same website, this means that possession of cannabis could lead to up to 5 years in prison and an unlimited fine. It is difficult to imagine that a substance which so many countries are now finally looking at honestly and accepting could warrant such harsh punishments, however England’s official stance on the issue does not represent current mindsets. When the law does change, it will not do so in a step-by-step manner, such as:

  • We are thinking about it, give us a minute.
  • Maybe we were too strict.
  • Sorry, our bad. Smoke up.

The law will remain strictly prohibitive until a decision has been made internally, and there is sufficient evidence that this could happen sooner rather than later.
Now that certain MPs and even parties are advocating for full legalisation, it is only a matter of time before the country seriously considers changing the law. When such an overwhelming percentage of people are asking for something, it’s hard for the government to turn a blind eye for too long.

The current global situation only strengthens this argument. With so many who find real help in cannabis suffering through the lockdown, and the economy in need of a boost which the cannabis industry empirically tends to provide, it seems like the moment of liberation for many hopeful users is fast approaching.