Cannabis is dangerous. The NHS warns about the risks of developing psychotic illnesses as a result of regular cannabis use; the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology also recently published a study indicating an increased risk of dying from high blood pressure among those who smoke cannabis regularly. Other dangers of cannabis include lung cancer and bronchitis. With all these potential health problems considered, it may come as a surprise that influential politicians, and 48% of 18-24 year olds, support the legalisation of this harmful substance.
One of the most common arguments made in favour of ‘weed’ legalisation is that, if legal, it may be taxed, regulated, and sold ‘pure’, and the money made might be reinvested into helping those with drug-related problems. Firstly, if drug laws were enforced in this country, and more people were deterred from actually using the drugs in the first place, then there would be a significantly reduced need to ameliorate drug problems. Secondly, no amount of regulation and taxation will change the fact that cannabis is inherently dangerous and unpredictable. Legalisation would also be unlikely to remove cannabis from the hands of dangerous criminals; on the contrary, it would simply transfer it to huge, wealthy, cynical corporations, who could market it and distribute it all over the country for anyone to obtain. Whilst in the hands of criminals, cannabis is at least more difficult to procure.
Another specious argument in favour of cannabis legalisation is that alcohol and cigarettes are currently legal. The idea that we already have two dangerous poisons available in Britain hardly seems like a justification for introducing a third. Also, given the immense damage inflicted already by smoking and drinking, it seems unlikely that someone would argue for their legalisation were they ‘illegal’ as cannabis is.
The most frequently regurgitated and tiresome argument of them all though, surrounds personal choice, and the idea that people should be able to fill their own bodies with whatever chemicals if they so choose. No. Cannabis use is not a victimless crime; most people are fortunate enough to have family members who care about them, and are dependent on them. It is not victimless when a cannabis user develops schizophrenia and his family is forced to look after him for the rest of his life. Similarly, it is rather immoral to expect law-abiding taxpayers to have their money spent on dealing with the self-inflicted repercussions of selfish, hedonistic and illegal drug use.
The only way to stop people from harming themselves (and, by extension, their families) is to have, and enforce, strong laws which deter individuals from taking the risk of filling their bodies with the poison in the first place.