The legalisation of cannabis to me is one of the most controversial debates of my lifetime. After the government un-shockingly announced earlier this year that they were not going to even consider talks on the decriminalization of marijuana in the UK, it made me wonder why we even bother to sign these petitions anyway? Why would the government want to legalise marijuana now? After continuously standing against it throughout the years. Weed is a Class B drug in the UK. It is in the same class as drugs such as Ketamine and highly addictive prescription drug Codeine. Possession of cannabis can result in a 5-year prison sentence and the word ‘criminal’ brandished on your name for life. Even though the majority of the world’s nations have banned it, a significant number will not prosecute for personal use. In places like Australia, Puerto Rico and Canada, it is legal for medicinal marijuana purposes in some form. Whereas in places such as California, Colorado and Spain it is legal or at least decriminalised in some form. Which means next time you’re laying with a sangria on the beach in Barcelona, you can light up a quick zoot as well.

In a 2012 global drug report commissioned by the United Nations, marijuana was identified as “the world’s most widely produced, trafficked, and consumed drug in the world in 2010.” Its users are estimated to be a number between 119 million and 224 million among adults (18 or older) in the world. It is also widely illegal over the world. There are way more adults smoking pot over the world than these figures show. The stigma around marijuana is still huge. Unless you’re a celebrity, confessing to smoking the Class B drug could see you shunned from society. Thus making these results inaccurate in my eyes.

The UK government responded to a petition which ran up till January 2016 and was later debated in parliament. The final outcome was this:

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.

But is that really true? There is so much evidence to prove the government wrong but why didn’t they see it? Think of the hopeful possibilities there are with medical marijuana. Marijuana ease’s a patient’s pain, the family of them from obvious suffering, as well as enhancing palliative care for the patient for end-stage illnesses.

Marijuana has long been considered the key gateway drug. The idea that Marijuana leads users to substantially more dangerous drugs such as Ecstasy and Cocaine is ridiculous. Being demonized constantly as a “stoner” and pejoratively described as someone who has ‘lost their way’ due to smoking weed throughout the day is demeaning to all pot users, and simply just not true. Celebrities such as Snoop Lion (Dogg) support the legalisation of weed, with even successful Sir Richard Branson revealing that he smokes the drug himself.

The uses for cannabis extend further than any pharmaceutical drug I’ve heard of. Athletes apply cannabis infused balms for muscle soreness. MS patients are treated with cannabis to ease pain and allow movement. The everyday person is able to take “edibles” (cannabis infused food) to relax, ultimately swapping out the alcohol for a weed cookie. I understand that the line between medicinal and recreational use is hazy, but what really is the difference between going to a pub every Friday night and drinking ridiculous amounts of alcohol to sitting in your living room smoking weed?weed-marijuana

The estimated value of the UK Cannabis Industry is £7bn per year, according to recent reports. Each year, we hear more and more about the strain on the NHS from issues such as rising costs, patient demand and staff shortages. A report released by the Nuffield Trust, estimated an over-spend of £4bn between 2016-2017, making the legalisation of weed an even better reason to go ahead.

There are 2.5 million people in the world with Multiple Sclerosis right now. All they need is this all natural, affordable plant. A natural method which is able to increase their appetite, reduce overwhelming pain and give them the chance to live a moderately healthy life.

Realistically, anyone who is to get hold of cannabis in a pre-legalization landscape can easily obtain it at any point in the day. By legalizing it, all we are actually changing is from whom it is purchased and ultimately making it safer for people to use for medicinal purposes. What better way to tackle drug gangs for good but to take away their revenue? Legal cannabis means that the strains will be monitored. The effort of “picking up” from dark alleys, being sold the wrong amount and inhaling “sprayed” weed will become a thing of the past. The legalization would lead to the end of a currently booming underground market, but will also save the UK police force thousands of pounds and free up a ridiculous amount of room in our “over-flowing prisons”.

This can lead to a much safer society, where terminally ill patients don’t have to meet up with a drug dealer in a back alley to purchase the plant.

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