As members of Parliament ended a debate on Monday over the nationwide legalization of cannabis, a super secret Treasury study was leaked to the British media that shows how the United Kingdom (UK) stands to generate hundred of millions of dollars in tax revenue while saving over $300 million in law enforcement expenditures by ending prohibition.
The report, which was commissioned several months ago by former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, outlines the substantial economic benefit of establishing a cannabis industry in the UK by suggesting that it would reap “notable tax revenue,” possibly in the neighborhood of over a billion dollars per year.
Although it remains unknown exactly who is responsible for disclosing the government analysis to both The Independent and BBC News, the contents unequivocally show that liberating the nation’s drug policies has the potential to produce a profitable nation while making better use of valuable public resources.
Interestingly, the study is reportedly the first of its kind to ever be conducted by the UK government.
“This is an important contribution to the wider debate on drugs reform and shows the UK could make savings in public spending and generate notable tax revenues from a regulated cannabis market, probably in the hundreds of millions of pounds, some of which could be spent on better education around the dangers of drugs use,” Norman Lab, a spokesperson for Liberal Democrats, told The Independent.
“There are successful cannabis markets emerging in different parts of the world and we should look to learn from these experiences,” he continued. “The burden is now with supporters of the status quo to explain why prohibition should continue in the face of the emerging evidence.”
The report goes on to show that greater public health issues exist through legal alcohol and tobacco than what is caused by the use of cannabis. It also suggests that, unlike the legal cannabis states in the United States, the UK’s market would be legal for adults 18 and over.
Unfortunately, the consensus of Monday’s Westminster Hall debate was that the government has “no plans” to make any changes to marijuana laws. Over the summer, Parliament got locked into a discussion on this issue when a petition asking for the government to legalize marijuana garnered around 220,000 signatures.
Some had hoped the debate might inspire a movement leading to Britain becoming the next entire nation to legalize the leaf. After all, the UK abolished slavery before the United States, so why not lead the pack when it comes to legalizing weed?
There is speculation that more substantial change to the cannabis policies all over the world are more likely after the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGLASS) takes place next year. Last year, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes UN Secretary Kofi Annan and former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, released a report that calls the international drug policy a failure and asks for nations to be allowed to legalize controlled substances, like marijuana, in the interest of public health and safety. This report, along with the experimental legalization in the United States and Uruguay are expected to become vital models when considering a revision to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
Depending on the outcome of those meetings, we could start to see more nations showing interest in legal cannabis markets within the next few years.
Which country do you think will legalize cannabis next? Let us know in the comments.