Thursday, October 2, 2008

Legalize dope, says UK foundation

Legalize marijuana, tax it and regulate it.

That's what's recommended in a new report prepared for the UK-based Beckley Foundation in anticipation of a UN review of drug policy. Says the Guardian:

A report on cannabis prepared for next year's UN drug policy review will suggest that a "regulated market" would cause less harm than the current international prohibition. The report, which is likely to reopen the debate about cannabis laws, suggests that controls such as taxation, minimum age requirements and labelling could be explored.

The Global Cannabis Commission report, which will be launched today at a conference in the House of Lords, has reached conclusions which its authors suggest "challenge the received wisdom concerning cannabis". It was carried out for the Beckley foundation, a UN-accredited NGO, for the 2009 UN strategic drug policy review.

There are, according to the report, now more than 160 million users of the drug worldwide. "Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," according to the report. "Historically, there have only been two deaths worldwide attributed to cannabis, whereas alcohol and tobacco together are responsible for an estimated 150,000 deaths per annum in the UK alone."

That sounds remarkably sensible. Even from the perspective of those who would "protect" society from dangerous drugs, marijuana prohibition has never made much sense. It's a mild intoxicant with fewer links to problematic behavior than (perfectly legal) alcohol, and it grows in virtually any conditions, making its interdiction extraordinarily difficult. Even if you don't agree that individuals have a right to engage in whatever consensual behavior they wish, restricting marijuana seems like a poor allocation of law-enforcement resources.

I'll take a look at the specifics of the report once it's available.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree that there are legitimate health and mental health concerns with the use of marijuana, however, i would much rather have my physical and mental health problems taken care of by a doctor than a drug dealer, thank you very much. Uncle Sam refuses to allow me to do this. See Pineapple Express and tell me that this drug war isn't daffodilling ridiculous. There are even cops in the U.S. coming out against prohibition, as they call it, and they're right. We didn't beat Al Capone we just gave him a hell of a playground for awhile. Sorry if I'm stepping on any toes here, but it seems that ALL of our children deserve better.

March 13, 2009 2:55 AM  

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