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Over the past few years there have been many people who have argued that cannabis should be legalised in the UK. In some respects, I have agreed with their arguments for this. Nevertheless, when you actually look deeper into this proposed legalisation it seems that, in reality, cannabis should not be legalised.
The most potent reason that cannabis should not be legalised is that we are still unsure of its long-term effects. Some serious mental health problems have been linked with cannabis, such as schizophrenia, psychosis, memory loss, depression, paranoia, and loss of concentration. These risks are heightened when you’re young as your brain is still developing. Physical problems have also been linked with cannabis, namely, respiratory problems, cognitive decline, cancer, heart disease, the increasing of one’s heart rate and the lowering of one’s sperm count.
Nonetheless, many people will say, I haven’t experienced these problems so why does it matter? It matters because is it really realistic to expect the Government to legalise cannabis if it cannot accurately predict what the effects of legalising cannabis would be? It is not fair to compare cannabis to alcohol or cigarettes, because we know the effects of these, and people use these regardless of them. What if, for example, Britain legalised cannabis, only to discover years later a more serious negative impact on humans than previously thought? Imagine the outcry.
The Dutch coffee-shop model is an argument that some use to contend that cannabis should be legalised. However, that has not been proven to work as it has led to many drug tourists, and tourists have consequently been banned from smoking cannabis in the Netherlands. Maybe if all countries agreed to legalise cannabis this problem could be avoided, but the fact is, if the UK legalised cannabis we would get an influx of drug tourists to Britain, which does not seem like a desirable situation. It certainly wasn’t for the Dutch.
Moreover, the legalisation of cannabis would make it socially acceptable and therefore encourage the use of it. In the Netherlands usage went up after it was legalised. If more people smoke it, more people will experience the adverse effects, meaning more people will be harmed, and more tax payers’ money will have to be used to treat any negative side effects. This will also mean that more people will become addicted to the drug, meaning more lives are likely to be ruined because of it, and more people will have to be treated for addiction, again using tax payers money. Furthermore, legalisation is likely to encourage the use of other harder drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, as cannabis is often viewed as a ‘gateway’ drug.
After considering these prominent points, it seems that cannabis should not be legalised in the UK. Not until we are sure of its long-term effects on health should it be legalised. Even then, there will still be many issues to overcome regarding the scale and type of legalisation, especially as, for me, decriminalisation seems a better option than legalisation.