Regulate it. Tax it. Support the NHS. Promote public health.
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.
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. 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.
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);
- 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.
 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
 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