Introducing a legalised, regulated cannabis market in the UK would generate ‘at least £1bn in tax income, if not more’, according to a report from the Health Poverty Action NGO. The money could then be ring-fenced to support the NHS as well as education and harm reduction programmes, it says.
With the Canadian senate about to vote on legalising cannabis for recreational use, regulation and legalisation is ‘an idea whose time has come’, says the report, adding that a legal market ‘could’ also reduce alcohol consumption among some groups. Other benefits would include better labelling and consumer choice, safer and less potent products and more effective harm reduction.
While the report accepts the ‘possibility’ that a legal market may mean increased levels of use, this would be balanced by the levels of revenue generated and by ‘decimating’ the criminal market. The NGO wants to see the government shift primary responsibility for drug policy to the Department of Health (DH) and the Department for International Development (DFID), as well as establish a panel of experts to develop an effective model for a regulated market. A Cannabis Regulatory Authority should then be set up to implement their recommendations, it says.
‘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 promote public health,’ the report states. ‘It would also generate both taxes (at least £1bn 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.’
Meanwhile, a separate report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance says that legalisation could mean potential savings to the public purse of at least £891m a year. ‘The prohibition of cannabis places a significant burden on public finances,’ says the document, which claims legalisation would result in savings of £50m for the prison system, £21m for the CPS, £26m for the courts and £141m for the probation service, as well as significant gains for the police and NHS.
Cannabis: Regulate it. Tax it. Support the NHS. Promote public health at www.healthpovertyaction.org
Potential savings from the legalisation of cannabis at www.taxpayersalliance.com