UK Study: Cannabis Legalisation Worth Hundreds Of Millions
A little while ago, the UK parliament convened to debate the issue of cannabis legalisation, which was brought to their attention by a petition with 220,000 signatures calling for change. While the debate gained public interest, stimulated discussion, and certainly took another chip out of the wall of prohibition, Conservative Ministers made no plans to change the law.
Just after the debate, BBC Newsnight managed to get hold of an internal Treasury report – a report the Conservative MPs would have been aware of – claiming that legalisation would be worth “millions” to the country. This flies directly in the face of the Conservative government’s claims that legalisation would cost more money than it generated.
THE REPORT THE CONSERVATIVES FAILED TO ACKNOWLEDGE
While we could easily go off on a rant about the Conservatives purposefully ignoring these figures, and the ethical implication of such a move, we will instead focus on what the report found, and what those living in the UK stand to gain should cannabis be legalised.
According to the report, which was started at the behest of the Liberal Democrats - who shared power in a coalition with the Conservatives in the last government – the gain is quite considerable. The Treasury was asked to consider the “potential fiscal impacts of introducing a regulated cannabis market in the UK," noting that over 2.2 million people had smoked cannabis in the UK over the last year, equating to an estimated 216 tonnes of the good stuff. They also used the facts and figures put together by the Institute for Social and Economical Research, which estimated a legal cannabis market would cut the UK deficit by £1.25 billion a year.
Combining all of this, and other figures of their own, the Treasury concluded that while the previous £1.25 million would be optimistic, and likely an over-estimation, at least £200 million would be saved a year in just court and police costs – not even factoring in the tax raised.
These are insane figures! Even at their minimum we are talking hundreds of millions a year saved! This would put a huge dent in the economic woes of the UK, allowing them to focus on ending austerity, as well as giving them much more money to reinvest in education and healthcare. By and large, it could help Europe as well, because, as a member nation of the EU, a stronger UK economy helps contribute to the wider economy as a whole.
So what is the upshot of all of this? Well, while it is appalling to find out that these figures were never acknowledged, just for the sake of burying their heads, it does show that there is certainly a lot to be gained by legalising cannabis, and people know it. We wonder how long the government will really be able to keep walking their current line of denial – especially when the world is changing around them. As it stands, the UK risks being left behind.