- Published on Monday, 31 August 2015 12:37
The Government has issued a firm response to a parliamentary petition calling for the legalisation of cannabis, that reached over 200,000 signatures and will be considered for debate in parliament.
The petition that urges the Government to "make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal" has 203,466 signatures at the time of writing.
The text of the petition claims that the legalisation of cannabis "could bring in £900 million in taxes every year, save £400 million on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs."
The petition is the second most popular on the website, second only to one that calls for a debate on a no confidence vote in Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Despite the petition's popularity, the Government has shut the door on the prospect of legalisation with their response.
It says: "The latest evidence from the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is that the use of cannabis is a significant public health issue"
"Cannabis can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society. Legalisation of cannabis would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery that this can cause to families."
"Legalisation would also send the wrong message to the vast majority of people who do not take drugs, especially young and vulnerable people, with the potential grave risk of increased misuse of drugs."
In a brief glimmer of hope for legalisation supporters, the Government recognises the "potential opportunity" to raise money through the taxation of cannabis.
However, they add that there would be costs related to "administrative, compliance and law enforcement activities" that they claim would not make legalisation worthwhile.
The Government ends its response by saying "we must prevent drug use in our communities," and adds that the downward trend in drug use over the last decade is a result of tough laws against drugs.
However, the Government's damning response to the petition jars with increasing levels of decriminalisation and legalisation around the world.
Ron Hogg, the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, said in July that cannabis users who possess or grow small amounts of the drug for their own personal use are "not a priority" for his force. He said that blatant use or complaints would cause them to take action, but penalties would ideally be focused on rehabilitation, not punishment.
The use, possession, sale and cultivation of cannabis is illegal under American federal law, but the states of Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have legalised sale and possession for medical and recreational use.
20 other states have legalised or decriminalised medical use to varying degrees. In April, a US government-funded study recognised the ability of cannabis to shrink some kinds of tumour.
UK Government Petition Response Propaganda in full...
Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities.
The latest evidence from the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is that the use of cannabis is a significant public health issue (‘Cannabis Classification and Public Health’, 2008).
Cannabis can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society. Legalisation of cannabis would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery that this can cause to families.
Legalisation would also send the wrong message to the vast majority of people who do not take drugs, especially young and vulnerable people, with the potential grave risk of increased misuse of drugs.
Despite the potential opportunity offered by legalisation to raise revenue through taxation, there would be costs in relation to administrative, compliance and law enforcement activities, as well as the wider costs of drug prevention and health services.
The UK's approach on drugs remains clear: we must prevent drug use in our communities; help dependent individuals through treatment and wider recovery support; while ensuring law enforcement protects society by stopping the supply and tackling the organised crime that is associated with the drugs trade. The Government will build on the Drugs Strategy by continuing to take a balanced and coherent approach to address the evolving challenges posed.
There are positive signs that the Government’s approach is working: there has been a long term downward trend in drug use over the last decade, and more people are recovering from their dependency now than in 2009/10. The number of adults aged 16-59 using cannabis in the last year in England and Wales has declined over the last decade from 9.6% to 6.7%, with cannabis use amongst young adults aged 16-24 and young people aged 11-15 following a similar pattern.