Politics

Cannabis legislation – how would it impact us?

“When will the law finally allow us to share love and positive vibez maaan?”
 
There has been countless campaigns throughout the decades seeking for the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use. Historically these movements stem from a more nostalgic and familiar “summer of love” background of Ashbury’s 1967 slightly ambiguous agenda, a “wear flowers in your hair” era if you like. 
 
However in recent years the issue of legalising cannabis has become a more cosmopolitan topic than we might think. 
 
It isn’t uncommon on this side of the pond to see similar signs of pro drug campaigning on our very own little island, with approximately 1 in 3 Irish people polled recently claiming it should be legalised. 
 
But who are these people calling for an end to the war on drugs? They’re not the smartest looking bunch, I’ll tell you that much for free. 
 
They are the ones who take something as solemn as Dublin’s garden of remembrance and use it as a place for a legalise cannabis protest. 
 
They are the ones who put up legalise cannabis stickers on your local bus stops. And yes, they are the ones who attend longitude and electric picnic wearing paisley harem trousers and are equipped with body paint and a hoola hoop for extra vibe.
 
However the general consensus of those advocating its legalisation are of the belief that it delivers happiness and sustained wellbeing for one’s lifestyle with minimal health risks.
 
But it turns out that there’s also an economic case for legalising it believe it or not. According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron (admirer of Amsterdam’s historic and architecturalral wealth), legalising cannabis would reduce prosecutorial, judicial, correctional and police resource spending by between $7.7bn and $13.7bn annually. 
 
As well as this, it is argued that revenues from tax could be well in excess of $8.7bn. 
 
While these figures seem appealing from a financial and economical perspective it does not take into account the socio-economic shortcomings of a business case such as the long-term expenses relating to: 
 
Productivity loss in the workplace 
Employee absenteeism 
Increased health care costs including mental health
Reduced learning capacity of students
Increased drugged driving
Increased crime due to wider consumption 
 
As far as the pro legalisation campaign endeavours, it seems its limitations are rooted in its failure to give a voice to the true nature of cannabis. 
 
Other than providing an aid for pain relief, the only ‘medicinal’ uses cited are ‘elevated feelings of happiness’. In order to build an adequate case for the legalisation of cannabis, or otherwise a case for keeping it illegal, we would have to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the drug itself through extensive research.
 
A transparent approach takes not only the positives of users into account, but the destructive impact it has on users and the wider society. 
 
And from various studies and health journals available we can conclude that some of the negative effects on health caused by cannabis are:
 
Immune system damage
Birth defects
Infertility
Cardiovascular disease
Stroke
Testicular cancer
Lung cancer/bullous lung
Physical and psychological addiction
Mood disorders and anxiety
 
Most advocates for cannabis legalisation will agree that the above conditions are known side effects of abusing the drug, and for these reason members on both sides of the argument will agree that an increase in consumption is a bad thing. 
 
However while calling for legalisation of the drug, proponents are adamant that consumption levels will not rise. In some cases there are even attempts to claim that consumption will decrease following legalisation, and this is where a contradiction stands out like a drug abusing female with blue hair. 
 
One of the more well-known proposed arguments’ surrounding the debate is that legalisation will regulate the criminal black market industry ultimately making it safer for the consumer. 
 
This regulation argument has often been proposed to lend strength to the legalisation campaign, but in effect it contradicts the aforementioned claim that consumption will not go up. 
 
Essentially what is being argued in the case for regulation is that a drug that was once life threatening to obtain is now cheaper, safer and easier to access, but people will now consume less of it. Next you’ll tell me Jeffrey Miron is an admirer of Amsterdam’s finer art galleries.   
   
Among other dubious claims about the nature of cannabis, advocates fondly link the drug to similar ones such as alcohol and cigarettes. 
 
Will they campaign for a regulation of these drugs with the intention to inhibit its consumption? 
 
No. Instead we see a steady call for the legalisation of anything that has equally detrimental effects on society. 
 
Contrary to a misinformed status quo, it is undeniable that cannabis is a gate way drug.
 
The term ‘gate way’ doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who tries it will progress to harder drugs, but those who do take harder drugs started out on cannabis. 
 
So does the economic benefits outweigh the social costs? It’s doubtful. 
 
But hey, if there was ever a case to oppose the legalisation of cannabis, just think of that person who went interailing and never fails to mention it. That we could do without.