Published on November 26, 2013 | by Edwige Dubois and Laure Fourquet

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#Cannabis: Should it be legalised?

Cannabis plant

Campaigners in the US continue to call for the legalisation of marijuana [Flickr: MarihuanayMedicina]

Campaigners in the US continue to urge federal and state authorities to decriminalise and legalise marijuana. Although these calls have not reached the UK, the issue is still a subject of public discussion, especially among students.

In this instalment of ‘For or Against’, ALN writers Edwige Dubois and Laure Fourquet argue the pros and cons of legalising cannabis.

 

ALN Features writer – Edwige Dubois

Legal or not, marijuana consumers will smoke.

I think decriminalisation and legalisation of marijuana would be positive for our society and for the economy.

Regulating the cannabis market implies greater control over the drug and an increase in public understanding of what the risks are.

Licensing and regulating marijuana would bring benefits to our economy with taxes and job creations in cultivation and retail.

Although some cannabis dealers keep this activity to live, feed their family or pay their rents; others are involved in more dangerous activities like organised crimes or prostitution. In a regulated market, the cannabis users’ money will not end up financing the criminal world.

There is a misunderstanding around regulation.

Regulation does not mean promoting marijuana but is only a way to set boundaries.

A good proportion of consumers are willing to buy whatever they can get hold of even if it means buying bad quality weed from some guy on a dodgy street. They have no idea what the composition is and are encouraged to take harder drugs.

In my opinion, this is where a real danger lies.

Young people already have easy access to marijuana and sometimes it is even easier for them to get some pot than to buy alcohol or cigarettes — the dealer does not ask for any ID but just £20; some of them have no integrity and sell it to children.

Vulnerable people and children would be more protected under regulation.

I am not saying smoking weed is good, we know it’s not. But alcohol is legal even if we know it is a poison.

Alcohol is arguably more harmful than cannabis so I think it is unfair to the people who prefer this drug rather than alcohol. And, legalising marijuana might actually curb alcohol consumption.

So why not regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol and tobacco with age restrictions, licensing, quality control and greater prevention?

There are many different models of regulated markets and if we refer to Holland, which has tolerance laws on cannabis in place, people’s consumption is not excessive.

Support for the legalisation of marijuana does not only come from consumers but also from people who see that the war on drugs is counterproductive and harmful.

The war on drugs creates a fear within society entailing stigma.

The legalisation of marijuana would establish the distinction between cannabis and harder drugs. The government upgraded cannabis to class B making the drug as dangerous as amphetamines; this fact certainly triggers misconception on cannabis users.

Politicians use the war on drugs in their campaigns to win some votes but do not address the real social issue of why there are problematic drug users in the first place. Policy makers hide behind prohibition.

Criminalising the use of marijuana is very expensive, a waste of police time on weed use cases rather than on more dangerous businesses and it penalises people who are not really criminals.

Among young people, to take drugs is already considered as normal. As soon as politicians will accept that drugs are a social issue and not a criminal justice one, they will be able to tackle the problem to its roots.

ALN News Reporter- Laure Fourquet


One of the more confusing aspects of this debate is the sometimes mixed use of the terms “decriminalisation” and “legalisation”.

To me, legalising a drug which is far from harmless, albeit possibly less harmful than cocaine for example, is a stupid move.

Ignoring research which clearly proves that marijuana is not only addictive, but also causes health risks such as strokes, cancer and psychosis, is extremely reckless.

Posing a convincing argument but ignoring the fact does not give one the right to promote the legalisation of a drug which, in the long run, could harm future generations.

Think about your younger siblings. Do you really want them to become the lazy ass stoner that you are, spending an entire day eating pizza and smoking on the sofa? Wasting the little money that you have on weed, always on the hunt for some more. How exciting.

Youth culture has made it “cool” to be advocating for legalisation and has normalised the consumption of marijuana. But what would be the effect of such a thing in real life? Can you seriously imagine yourself going to a High Street supermarket and buying a few grammes of weed alongside your milk and cereals?

You and I both know that marijuana use is linked to poor academic  and professional performance. And come on – be honest – you don’t smoke weed to savour its taste or complement a meal, but to “relax”, which is achieved by diminishing your functions, including concentration, thinking and co-ordination.

Also, taxing and regulating products do not keep them out of anybody’s hands, including children. By legalising weed, society will send the message to younger generation that smoking is ok and harmless.

Legalising and taxing marijuana will not eliminate its use among young people. It could certainly reduce drug trafficking but won’t stamp out the criminal element that will simply turn to selling unregulated, untaxed weed.

And don’t tell me that finding weed is a difficult task, whether you need to call a “friend” or you grow your own, the product is already everywhere, so why legalise it?

All legalisation will do is remove whatever stigma remains around marijuana use and legitimise another means of harming oneself. Oh, and get the youth vote.

Finally, do you really think that your own experience with marijuana is more valuable than scientific evidence? If a significant reduction of your IQ and higher risks of acquiring mental illness are your prerogatives then maybe you should move elsewhere.

But think about twice, ‘cause life is too good to live it high.

 

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