The United Kingdom’s Liberal Democrat party has pledged to create a legal market for the production and sale of cannabis in its recently released manifesto. In 2017, cannabis is more or less socially acceptable in the U.K. and many residents have traveled to Spain, Portugal or the city of Amsterdam to consume the plant.
Under the proposal, cannabis would be legal for adults over 18 and home growing and cannabis social clubs would permitted. The plant would be available through licensed cannabis shops as in the United States. The party predicts that the regulated market would generate up to £1 billion in tax revenue.
Cannabis is illegal in the U.K. under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the U.K. hasn’t had much luck with lawmakers that are unwilling to budge on cannabis laws. In 2004, cannabis was slightly downgraded to a Class C drug, but quickly reinstated as a Class B drug after public complaints in 2009.
“What we currently do is bad for health and mental health,” Julian Huppert of the Liberal Democrats said. “The market is run by criminal gangs and they have no interest in public health—the system is causing huge amounts of harm. The prohibitionist approach costs a huge amount of money, means we criminalise a large amount of people, and increases the harm. We spend a lot of money making people’s lives worse. That cannot be correct.” Huppert served as MP for Cambridge from 2010 to 2015 and stands for the constituency at this general election.
An evidence-based study, backed by the U.K. government, suggested that stricter drug possession laws fail to lower levels of drug abuse. The party is also planning to repeal the recent Psychoactive Substances Act which outlaws new substances that can be considered drugs.
Millions of Britainers have seen the success of legal cannabis in the United States and want that kind of freedom on their own soil. The United Kingdom general election will take place on June 8, 2017.