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If weed isn't legalised, it's not my revolution

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Cinta Vidal

Last year, then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid reclassified cannabis as a schedule 2 drug, meaning that specialist doctors can now prescribe cannabis-based medicines. But Javid was quick to say that this is "in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use". Why not? It's now decriminalised or legalised in many countries, from Portugal to Canada, so why not in Britain?

As with all drugs, children should be protected from harm and excessive use may indicate underlying problems. But cannabis has been part of human culture for millennia and the effects are well-known. It makes you stoned, but it's not poisonous. Smoking is unhealthy, but now we have vaping, and edible cannabis use has rocketed following legalisation in many US states. Possible harms are so minimal in comparison to those of some legal drugs that we have to ask, as one commentator recently put it, "does weed really even count?!"

Cannabis has been part of human culture for millennia

Only criminals deal in illegal drugs - by definition, of course - but governments also take a suspicious interest in what substances people are using. Note the shameful history of the deliberate British trade of opium into China, which led to millions addicted and two Opium Wars. In Afghanistan, Europe's main heroin supplier for at least a decade according to EU agencies, opium production has actually increased under Western intervention. Is this despite attempts to eradicate it, or precisely because of them? Do drugs play a part in social control, or is it simply that organised criminals pay their friends in government well?

Legalisation would remove the fear of arrest. The subject would become much easier to discuss with your doctor, your children, and at school. Users would feel free to report suspicions about unscrupulous dealers and the police could concentrate on more serious matters. South Yorkshire Police have been criticised and ridiculed for continued arrests for possession - about 900 in 2017 - yet Durham Police say they will no longer target recreational weed users, even those growing their own plants for personal use.

If you're not convinced by the argument that cannabis could help people suffering with epilepsy, seizures, glaucoma, cancer, anxiety, depression, acute migraines, menstrual cramps, asthma, insomnia and birth pains, consider the other advantages of legalisation. The government could permit quality control, ensuring that more dangerous substances are not mixed in.

For the more economically-minded sceptic, there's always job creation and tax revenue. Even Tory William Hague argues for legalisation. Down here at the grassroots, so many people enjoy cannabis that it'd be good to hear Labour taking note of a policy that could well win them the next election. Free the weed!

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