The Liberal Democrats’ plan to fully legalize cannabis if elected is nothing if not unprecedented.
According to the political party, the pledged cannabis legislation will be directed towards creating a legal market for what is currently considered a Class B drug with a five-year prison sentence for possession and a 14-year prison sentence for supplying.
As expected, the opposition views the Lib Dems’ proposals as a drowning man’s attempt to grasp at straws—in light of their evidently weakened position after losing 28 seats in recent local elections.
Tory candidate Julian Knight spoke to The Telegraph on the matter, expressing uneasiness over what he sees as a desperate attempt by the Lib Dems to grab a vote or two after their stance over Brexit proved to be a total vote-loser.
Knight is of the opinion that cannabis is directly responsible for mental health issues and is appalled by the political party’s decision to promise its legalization simply as a way to garner more votes.
Current Approach to Cannabis is “A Disaster” – Julian Huppert
According to Liberal Democrats candidate Julian Huppert, the government’s current approach to cannabis is causing significant physical and mental damage, especially to the young people in the country.
The lack of any kind of regulation on the distribution of cannabis—be it age checks, quality and potency controls, and the prevalence of a subpar brand of cannabis informally known as “skunk weed”—is the main reason the drug has such a negative impact on the country’s younger population.
Furthermore, Huppert argues that the more governments maintain their position on the drug, the more they yield control of a drug capable of causing widespread health problems to organized crime syndicates that supply cannabis in the country.
A Regulated Cannabis Market
According to the Lib Dems manifesto, the proposed cannabis legislation will include the creation of a legal market for the drug’s production and sale in high street shops.
There would be a strict age limitation imposed on sales transactions, to prohibit people under the age of 18 from accessing the drug.
The sale of cannabis would also be strictly regulated in terms of vendor licensing, potency and quality control.
The manifesto specifically states that there will be a significant reduction in the harmful THC levels of cannabis, and an increase in its CBD composition.
Lib Dems predicts that the new cannabis legislation will also be of great benefit to the country since its legalization could generate as much as £1 billion per year in production and sales tax revenues.
Part of this revenue, according to the political party, could be used to educate the public on cannabis usage.
Huppert’s main concern with the prohibitionist approach towards cannabis legalization is giving too much power to the organized crime syndicates responsible for supplying and distributing the drug.
Furthermore, he believes making cannabis illegal is leading to the mass criminalization of people and contributing greatly to the harm the drug poses.
That approach, according to him, not only costs a lot of resources, it also diverts law enforcers from what he considers the real threat to society: violent crime.
This is the first time in the history of UK politics that a political party has included the legalization of cannabis in their manifesto as they enter a general election.
Best Way of Dealing with the Cannabis Issue
Huppert’s sentiments were echoed by Norman Lamb, a Norfolk Liberal Democrats candidate who believes that, despite his general aversion to drugs and alcohol, the proposed cannabis legislation would be the best approach to take—especially since the previous prohibitive approach has already proven to be a catastrophic failure.
Several states in the US have legalized the production and sale of cannabis both for recreational and medicinal purposes.
Whether the UK will follow suit is yet to be determined, although pundits are certain that the chances of a Lib Dem victory in the forthcoming general elections are slim.