Cannabis: Regulate it. Tax it. Support the NHS. Promote public health.

A new report by Health Poverty Action.

The so-called ‘war on drugs’ was always built on shaky foundations. Now countries and jurisdictions around the world are dismantling it piece by piece and building a new, 21st century approach to drugs that puts public health first.

Read the report

Nowhere are the foundations of this new approach to drugs more obvious than in the global movement towards regulated, legalised cannabis markets. And despite the US being the ostensible leader of the ‘war on drugs’, it has been US states at the forefront of this move. The results from the US so far are generally positive: confounding critics whilst bringing in additional tax income to fund public services.[1] And this is just the start: in the summer of 2018 Canada will become the first G7 country to legalise cannabis.

Regulating and legalising cannabis is an idea whose time has come.

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It is time to accept that prohibition is not only ineffective and expensive, but that regulation could – if it is done well – protect vulnerable groups and support public health. It would also generate both taxes (at least £1 billion annually, but potentially more) and savings, which taken together would mean more resources for health, harm reduction and other public services.

It is time for the UK government to catch up with the global shift and take the responsible approach by bringing in a regulated, legal market for cannabis.

To do this the UK government should

  • move primary responsibility for cannabis policy and all other domestic (legal and illegal) drug policy to the Departments of Health (DH) and International Development (DFID)[2];
  • bring together a panel of experts to develop the most effective model for a regulated market; and,
  • establish a Cannabis Regulatory Authority to implement their recommendations.

It is time to act.

Read the full report here:

[1] Transform, (2015) ‘Cannabis regulation in Colorado: early evidence defies the critics’ Available online: www.tdpf.org.uk/blog/cannabis-regulation-colorado-early-evidence-defies-critics

[2] Health Poverty Action (2018) ‘Building a 21st Century Approach to Drugs’ Available online: https://www.healthpovertyaction.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Building-a-21st-century-approach-to-drugs_briefing2018.pdf

Media Coverage

Print/online

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/02/legalise-cannabis-treasury-3bn-drugs

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/legalising-cannabis-fund-nhs-budget-weed-health-poverty-action-a8381166.html

Making cannabis legal ‘could bring £3,500,000,000 to the UK’

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/707069/Legalise-cannabis-free-the-weed-NHS-budget-taxes-referendum-Home-Office-Health-Poverty-Act

http://uk.businessinsider.com/a-legal-cannabis-market-could-offset-nhs-deficit-2018-6

Broadcast

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b4yzrm from 46:50

Opinion

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/02/why-we-must-legalise-cannabis-public-health

https://leftfootforward.org/2018/06/how-legalising-cannabis-could-save-the-nhs/

Prohibition and the war on drugs

Sanho Tree, “An Inside Look at the Drug War Vs. Civilization,” 5 February 2014, The Fix

We unfortunately live in a society that likes to talk in simple dichotomies—good or bad, yes or no, black or white. It carries over very often into the way we talk about drug policy. Historically, when I would debate drug warriors, because I would be critical of prohibition and the war on drugs, they would say, “Oh, so you want to sell heroin in candy machines to children.” No. I actually want more control over these substances. The myth of prohibition is that prohibition doesn’t mean you control drugs. It means you give up the right to control drugs.
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Global Drug and Development Policy Roundup

Global Drug and Development Policy Roundup,” Institute of Development Studies, 2013

The initial invite-only event took place early 2013 and used the report “Dependent on Development. The interrelationships between illicit drugs and socioeconomic development” (pdf), released by the Nossal Institute for Global Health in December 2010, as a basis for discussion.
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Let’s put an end to the “war on drugs” that has ruined so many lives

Katrina vanden Heuvel, “Why It’s Always Been Time to Legalize Marijuana,” The Nation, 30 October 2013

“Marijuana is indeed a gateway drug,” quips Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies. “It’s a gateway drug to the Oval Office!” Indeed. From Bill Clinton’s “I didn’t inhale it” through George W. Bush’s “I was young and foolish” to Barack Obama’s teen years in the Choom Gang (“I inhaled frequently—that was the point”), the last three presidents have more or less owned up to breaking America’s drug laws.
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There Is No Good Drug War

Maya Schenwar, Interview “There Is No Good Drug War,” Truthout, 31 July 2013

Twenty years ago, when acclaimed neuroscientist Carl Hart began studying drugs, he was motivated by a desire to help communities like the one in which he grew up: poor communities of color that had been, he believed, ravaged by the crack “epidemic.” The media craze around crack headlines was swirling to a fever pitch at the time – the late ’80s and early ’90s – and, Hart writes, “I became utterly convinced that crack cocaine was the cause of everything that I now saw as wrong with the neighborhood.”

However, nothing is that straightforward, in the world or in High Price, and Hart’s work in the lab called into question some of his most deeply rooted assumptions.
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After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation

After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation,” Transform Drug Policy Foundation, November 2009

There is a growing recognition around the world that the prohibition of drugs is a counterproductive failure. However, a major barrier to drug law reform has been a widespread fear of the unknown – just what could a post-prohibition regime look like?

For the first time, ‘After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation’ answers that question by proposing specific models of regulation for each main type and preparation of prohibited drug, coupled with the principles and rationale for doing so.
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