Eight US states and a bunch of nations around the world have started legalising cannabis in the last few years. Will the UK follow suit and make cannabis consumption legal by 2020?
Let’s see what odds the bookies are giving and whether you should bet on it.
Reasons the UK Could Legalise Cannabis
A study this year claimed that if the drug became regulated it could bring in up to £1bn a year in tax revenue. Duties on harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco have been increased since Cameron came to power six years ago. And Theresa May could identify a cannabis tax as a useful source of revenue.
As Britain deals with the turbulence of Brexit, cannabis legalisation could plug a few fiscal gaps and may become increasingly attractive in the coming years.
And with more than 1,300 offenders currently in prison for cannabis-related crimes, legalising the drug might save millions a year for both the legal and prison system.
Legalising Cannabis in Other Countries
What makes it more likely that the UK could legalise cannabis is the trend towards more liberal laws in other countries. The USA has drawn the most attention lately, with recreational use of cannabis now legal in eight states including California.
They join Spain, the Netherlands, Chile and Jamaica among others, in legalising cannabis in some form. And that’s before you include the array of nations that permit medicinal consumption cannabis.
Why the UK Probably Won’t Legalise Cannabis
What makes legalisation of Cannabis in the UK seem unlikely is the stance taken by the Conservative government towards other issues that might have overlapping themes. Here things seem to be taking a less liberal turn.
At the end of November a clause was subtly added to a bill banning UK web users from accessing a raft of what was described as “non-conventional sex acts”. This is currently on the way to becoming law.
That might not tell us a great deal about cannabis. But if the substance is suddenly legalized, it won’t be part of a wider trend of liberalisation. Rather things seem to be getting increasingly conservative.
“There Are No Plans to Legalise Cannabis”
Every couple of years a petition gets enough signatures that it needs to be debated in Parliament. The last time this happened was in October 2015. The outcome that time was the government statement, “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.”
Most of the scientific evidence is shown to be conflicting and inconclusive. So this might tell you that there’s an ideological objection to cannabis. And it may take a lot more than three years for cannabis to be legalised in the UK.
Bet on Whether the UK will Legalise Cannabis
Right now the odds with Paddy Power are 12/1 that the UK will legalise recreational use of cannabis by 2020. This line is open until the 31st of January at 12:00.