Recently in the news there were reports about a meta-analysis study performed in Australia. This study looked at more than 80 previous studies dealing with cannabis use and psychosis. Their findings have shown that there is a link between cannabis use and an early onset of psychosis in a person predisposed to psychosis.
The main problem with this, that you don’t really see mentioned, is they also found for users of “unspecified substances” the age of onset was 2 years younger than for non-users. For alcohol only users they found no difference against non-users. To me, this makes the finding seem tenuous and not really worthy of the news headlines “Cannabis Use Linked to Earlier Onset of Psychotic Disorders” or “Cannabis use ‘accelerates’ mental illness.” I do love poorly worded and sensationalistic headlines.
This kind of study brings out the ignorance in people. I have been reading comments on news websites as well as on Facebook dealing with this study. This has made me want to respond in detail about the reality of cannabis use and whether we should be decriminalising as well as legalising it.
If you think critically about the subject of cannabis and its legalisation it is easy to come to the conclusion that it should be legal. First of all there are many great economic reasons for legalising cannabis.
If the government were to legalise cannabis they would then start taxing it. In the case of “alcopops” they tax quite heavily, they could possibly do this with cannabis. This will be a gigantic boost to the coffers of government.
They would also be reducing crime as the financing for a majority of organised crime is from the sale of cannabis. By reducing crime they will be reducing the amount of prisoners held in our jails. This is very true as a lot of people in jail are there for cannabis related charges. This kind of saving on top of taxation is not a small amount of money.
Along with reduction in people being incarcerated, it will also reduce policing. With a massive minimalisation of the drug war comes a saving in Police man hours.
The income the government receives from tax and saves from reduced policing could be put to incredibly good use. If the majority of this money were put towards education we would see a reduction in drug use. There is a correlation between education/intelligence and drug use. Persons who are better educated tend to be less inclined to indulge in drugs.
It would be fantastic to know that more money is being spent on education because of a reduction in spending on incarceration.
Along with legalisation we may be looking at a reduction in use. For starters we have the previous argument of education and a correlated reduction. Then we have further ideas based on education. As people have become more educated on the damaging effects of tobacco we have seen a massive reduction in use. We can use the same kinds of campaigns to help reduce the use of cannabis as has been used with campaigns against cigarettes.
If cannabis were to be sold in stores there will be heavy regulations over packaging/advertising. I expect to see similar kinds of warnings found on cigarettes from the onset of cannabis sale.
There will also be age restrictions in place and massive fines for businesses that do not follow these restrictions. This will hopefully reduce the amount of young people consuming cannabis.
If it were the case that young people are still consuming it at the same rate as previously, we should hopefully see a massive reduction in use of other drugs. If people are able to purchase cannabis without having to go to drug dealers they will be less likely to be pushed or motivated to use other drugs.
This is why cannabis has gained the ridiculous title of “the gateway drug.” The only reason it is a gateway to other illicit drugs is because of the people you have to purchase it from currently. If you are not purchasing it from these kinds of people you will not be confronted with other illicit drugs.
Once there is a standardised industry for cannabis there will be control over the quality of the drug. This will mean that you will know what you are purchasing. You will know there is no chance it has been laced with anything. You will possibly be able to purchase it on strength and growing style e.g. hydroponic versus natural versus organic (need to include the organic crazies).
Along with the growing style we would see healthier ways of consuming. I could see many people moving away from smoking it if there were easier to attain options of consumption.
In the long run I would hope this would see a reduction in the stigma held against cannabis. With this will come many benefits. Use of it in medication will be furthered. Use of hemp in all kinds of materials e.g. fabric and paper. Also the increase in hemp oil production, which has many uses.
On the subject of medication, there is already huge amounts of evidence of the efficacy of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol positively in the treatment of many different health problems. One very notable use is against cancer and multiple sclerosis. A drug by the name of Sativex that has now been approved in many countries is used to help reduce negative effects of many conditions including MS, AIDs, and cancer.
There are many more reasons why the legalisation of cannabis is a great idea but I will finish here. I hope I can change the minds of some towards this idea.