My position on the manufacture and supply of cannabis and other unregulated ‘street drugs’ is now pretty simple. If we are going to allow them to be lawfully used, then regulation and not decriminalisation is the only course of action I’m willing to support.
Decriminalisation of cannabis is, in my opinion, a charter for legalising organised crime, including forced prostitution, organised paedophilia, human trafficking, etc.
Regulation would be the only realistic option, as the manufacture and distribution could be ensured to be made up of lawful activity only and could have the benefit of driving the organised criminals out of the market.
Cannabis, whether the cannabis lobby like it or not, is a potentially dangerous drug. Long-term misuse can result in psychosis – in my view this is because misuse can result in the brain no longer being able to self-regulate dopamine and serotonin levels. But this is why it should be legalised and regulated. I would do it as follows:
- Apply the same taxation procedures as for cigarettes;
- Have similar rules on consumption levels as for alcohol; and
- Have the same point-of-sale advice and restrictions on purchase quantities as paracetamol.
A low dose of cannabis could be safe for recreational use, where as too high a dose could lead to long-term problems, like chronic mental health issues. Same as with alcohol, and in the case of cigarettes the long -term effects can be fatal, often unlike cannabis.
Even so, my fourth way question is – why legalise a millennia old drug like cannabis, which has these well documented risks from long-term use and abuse, when there is potential profit to be made by the pharmaceuticals designing and patenting new and safe recreational drugs? This could drive up innovation in the economy, and mean that the checks and balances in place for medical drugs could be in place for recreational drugs. Pharmaceuticals are unlike to want to develop medicines based on cannabis as they are unlikely to be patentable, meaning they won’t get their money back. So unless the government start letting health mutuals get cheaper licences for proven uses, so old out of patent drugs will be failed to be used for new affordable purposes.
So my policy on recreational drugs is that their design, manufacture and distribution should regulated and they should only be available for sale if they pass what I call the ‘safe sex pill test’. That is, if the risks to the person using them are easily as understandable as the contraceptive pill, and pose no more harm to them than that potentially can do at a safe dose, then it should be available in licenced premises for recreational use. If the risks of misuse are so high, as with cannabis, then that is more reason to legalise and regulate it and not less!