Cannabis legalisation in the UK has been a hot topic in 2019 in light of Canada and the United States’ move to legalise the drug on a recreational level.
have claimed that cannabis legalisation would “fuel violent crime” and “turn a
generation into hard drug addicts”, although evidence from other countries
leagues ahead of the UK in legalisation have evidence to say otherwise.
The harsh response from experts begs
the question, has violent crime risen in places where cannabis has been
legalised? And has there been a rise in hard drug addicts.
In terms of the latter, there has been
a significant rise in Americans who have become addicted to opiates in the past
decade, culminating in the opioid crisis, although this isn’t confined to those
states that have legalised cannabis.
On the subject of violent crime, many
articles have surfaced using statistics from America to demonstrate how states
that have welcomed legalisation have seen violent crime rates rising. However,
most states in the US have experienced rising violent crime rates, increasing
in line with the nationwide trend, regardless of their individual cannabis
For example, in California – a state known for its liberal laws surrounding cannabis – murders in the county of Oakland have decreased, while murders in Fresno have seen an increase, if the statement about legalised cannabis being the cause of violent crime to increase, surely both counties would have experienced the same increase in violence.
The common notion of once it’s
legalised, more people will be tempted to try it is backed by almost every
country that has legalised cannabis and found that this is not the case.
When cannabis is legalised it would
make people more willing to be honest about their use as opposed to individuals
who have no previous interest in cannabis suddenly morphing into the next Snoop
A federal survey
undertaken on the Colorado marijuana industry and its impact on the rate of
adolescent marijuana use found that teen cannabis use has actually dropped in
Colorado since legalisation in 2012.
When questioned, students in high
school who had used cannabis within the past month had dropped 11 percent
between the years of 2011 and 2017 and remained below the national average.
Also asked was whether teens had ever tried cannabis at all, in which teens
answering ‘yes’ had also dropped by 11 percent during the same time period.
Additionally, legalising cannabis has
not negatively affected the graduation or dropout rates in Colorado. In fact
the opposite is reported
as since 2012, the graduation rates have increased alongside a decrease in
have also demonstrated that cannabis use among young people decreases in
general within states where medical marijuana has been legalised, possibly due
to teens seeing its use as medicinal as opposed to recreational.
Coming back to the UK, it is impossible to ignore London’s recent knife-crime epidemic that has seen a dramatic rise in the amount of murders in connection to the illicit drugs trade, much of this to do with the underground cannabis market.
If cannabis was legalised in the UK,
it could potentially take the drug trade away from the criminal underworld and
in the hands of regulated and government approved sellers, thus potentially
Comparing back to the US, in the
states of Washington and Colorado where cannabis has been legalised
data has found that police no longer have
to spend a majority of their time on cannabis arrests and can focus on more
violent offences, with the crime clearance rates (the number of times the
police solved a crime), having increased for violent and property crimes after
found that in California, the medical marijuana law also reduced both violent
and property crime by 20%.
Taking one state’s violent crime
statistics and relating it to the misleading stance of legalisation of cannabis
causing violence to increase as a whole is simply scaremongering when taken out
of context and not compared
to other states’ with strict cannabis laws where the
rise of violence is the same if not more.
This doesn’t mean that cannabis use is
completely safe for everyone and it should be set loose, there are still
important health issues such as the usage of high THC strains potentially
enabling a more rapid
onset of mental health issues such as
schizophrenia and addiction in individuals prone to them.
The UK’s legal need for cannabis
There have been a shocking amount of
reports revealing stories about UK citizens needs to visit the dark and
dangerous black market to purchase cannabis for debilitating illnesses.
Penny Fitzlyon spends £250 per month
on cannabis to treat her Multiple Sclerosis, with MS sufferers revealing it’s “inhumane”
that they are forced to fund black market drug dealers and break the law in
order to find relief from their pain.
After using opioids for her agony
resulting in “balance terrible, my speech slurred and my eyes popping in all
directions”, Penny found that cannabis could aid her pain better than opiates
with fewer side effects, revealing
that using cannabis “totally transformed” her quality of life.
Similarly, Carly Barton has
Fibromyalgia and suffered a stroke where she was left with continuous pain disclosing
that she feels like her “bones have been replaced by hot pokers, it burns from
the inside out, and pain is everywhere, my neighbour complained frequently
about me, him being able to hear me screaming through the walls because the
pain was that bad”, all while she was taking the strong opiate prescription
fentanyl and morphine.
After growing tired of taking powerful
pain prescriptions and still experiencing excruciating pain, she turned to
cannabis during a muscle spasm attack and revealed the cannabis gives her
relief within minutes stating “there’s no drug, anything that I’ve tried that
is able to do what this does”.
After being one of the first people to have access to legal medical cannabis, her prescription was recently denied, now she has openly admitted to having to resort to illegally cultivating her own cannabis to avoid experiencing the excruciating pain again.
Violent drug market
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has
previously expressed many times that people who use cannabis medicinally need
to receive the help they need, although nothing major has been put in place to
make sure these people avoid fuelling the increasingly violent drug market.
Contrary to some beliefs, mounting
evidence states that legalisation would reduce crime, swipe a major part of the
illegal black market out of the hands of violent drug dealers and global drug
cartels, free up important police resources to focus on hard violent crime that
is unmistakably rising, allow individuals suffering to have access to the pain
relief they need and generate
a huge amount of taxable income to be re-distributed
into public sectors.