The Real Dangers of Cannabis: Drug Laws
That’s right, we are putting it out there: the real danger is not cannabis, but the laws that surround it. There are countless NGO’s, scientific bodies, governmental advisors, and policy groups that all think the War on Drugs is the real enemy, and that the prohibition of cannabis is causing more damage that the drug can itself. This is no clearer than from the Global Commission on Drug Policy’s 2011 report, which stated, “the global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies [...] fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed".
The need for reform to mitigate the damage of prohibition is so urgent that it prompted a group of world leaders (including former UN leaders) to come together and call for an end to the crusade against drug users. This sentiment can even be traced back as far as 2002, where the Canadian Senate report concluded that the greatest threat comes from its continued illicit status, not is use.
CANNABIS: THE NOT SO DEADLY INTOXICANT
To begin with, let’s take a look at why cannabis is given such a bad rap, and why this is so wrong.
Over the years, cannabis has been blamed for a whole multitude of problems. The accusations all started very big and grandiose, but as science has shed light on the truth, have gotten smaller and smaller – to the point where the anti-cannabis crowd are now worrying about allergens. When it was first outlawed, cannabis was blamed for causing crime committed by ethnic minorities. Then came the lies that started the War on Drugs, with Ronald Reagan stating:
"I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast"
From here the myths that cannabis is a gateway drug, encourages teenage use, causes cancer, is highly addictive, and rots the brain all took a firm hold – and have largely persisted to this day. Fortunately, science has helped disprove each and every one of these claims and is slowly leading to a better educated public, which in turn is changing the way politicians think. It is sad that politicians worry about their public image instead of looking at the evidence and helping educate on the matter themselves, but that is just the way it is. We are now at a point where there are reports outlining how cannabis is less dangerous than both alcohol and tobacco, highlighting the hypocrisy of current cannabis related political attitude and policy.
HOW CANNABIS PROHIBITION HURTS US ALL
There are a whole load of ways that prohibition hurts us, both individually and as a society. Not only this, they are so in-depth, that we could probably write a pretty long article about each of them. But instead, we will give you an overview.
First and foremost, cannabis prohibition encourages the police to target petty drug users. In most countries, the police receive grants to help combat drug use – with the grant amount often being related to performance. This leads to an industry of sort, whereby the police begin to rely on drug arrests and seizures to ensure their budget. This not only leads a lot of police forces dedicating a lot of their finite time to hunting drug users instead of serious criminals, but also lands normal, non-violent users with a criminal record that can ruin their lives.
Then there is the very serious point that prohibition is withholding a potentially potent medicine from those who need it. More and more places are legalizing cannabis for medical means as more benefits are found. However, those who live in particularly conservative areas of the world are being denied access to a drug that can change lives, and make unmanageable conditions much more liveable.
There is also the cost to society that needs to be considered. Billions are spent on enforcing the prohibition of cannabis. Imagine if this money was freed up, it could be put too much better use elsewhere – like education, health care, infrastructure, and even refocused police work. This can be further boosted by the regulation of cannabis, which has the potential to generate billions more in tax, and create a new and thriving industry full of jobs. If you need an example, look no further than Colorado, where the tax take has been so large that the state is now considering refunding money to its residents – not to mention that crime and teenage use have also gone down.
The last point we want to make is the billion dollar black market that illegal cannabis fuels. This money goes on to fund violent crime, human trafficking, insurgency and terrorism, and even war. If you need an example, look no further than the effect of US legalization on the illegal drug trade in Mexico. Mexican cartels are well known to the main source of cannabis for the US, and since legalization, cartel income has been drastically hit. Not only this, but as the drug trade relying on illegal cannabis has declined in Mexico, so has cartel related violent crime, with murder rates dropping by the thousands.
It just goes to show the travesty that cannabis prohibition causes. Society and individuals have so much to gain from legalization. So tell us, how is continuing to keep cannabis as an illegal substance safe, right, and just?