Colorado has proved that legalising cannabis works, so it's about time we let the UK get high

In just six months the state has raised millions in tax revenue and seen a fall in crime

Share

Six months ago the state of Colorado legalised marijuana. Now the THC dust has begun to settle on this landmark decision, it’s time to analyse the results and see what we can take home from them.

To the surprise of no drug reform activists anywhere, the consequences of Colorado’s decision have been overwhelmingly positive.

The state’s governor, John Hickenlooper, predicts that sales of the drug will reach $1bn in the next fiscal year, raising almost $134m in tax revenue. Arrests for drug-related crimes and the murder rate have also halved, and tens of thousands of people have found work in the state's burgeoning cannabis market.

Astute politicians will be quick to point out that the UK is not Colorado (as they have similarly done with Portugal and the Czech Republic), and that what works over there may not work for us.

But with an estimated 2.3 million adults in the UK reporting that they've used cannabis, it's about time we started to think about what it could look like. Fortunately, it doesn't require a stretch of the imagination to see how these policies could translate, as there's a wealth of reputable studies that highlight the benefits.

In September the Institute for Social and Economic Research released a report estimating that licensing the sale of cannabis could reduce the government deficit by between £0.5bn and £1.25bn pounds. Another report, published by the London School of Economics and backed by Nick Clegg, stated that our strategy for dealing with drugs “can no longer be justified”.

It’s not just statistics that point towards the need for change. A week ago 80 campaigners, including the National Black Police Association and self-confessed ex-heroin addict Will Self, wrote an open letter to David Cameron. It asked him to stand by the commitment he made in 2002 (when he was on a home affairs select committee) to look into alternatives to the current policing model.

While it’s unlikely Cameron will be roused to action by this petition, a voice he has increasingly begun to listen to has been calling for reform. Earlier this year, Nigel Farage piped up in support of legalising certain drugs - a surprising move for a man who has already invested a considerable sum into the beer and tobacco industries.

Outside of Parliament, the millions of cannabis users are growing impatient. Colin Davies, who tried to open a cannabis café in Manchester, has founded the Cannabis Health Service, a website that aims to provide medical marijuana to those in chronic pain. There is a growing underground scene both online and offline, in which people swap growing tips and trade their different strains. And weed plants are sprouting up in public places thanks to the Feed the Birds movement.

This should all give the Government enough impetus to reform drug policy, yet the most important points in favour of reassessing our drug policy go beyond the practical. 

When laws are widely flouted they cease to be laws and instead become instruments to punish certain members of society. When the government sacks its chief drug adviser for stating scientific facts it exposes itself as arrogant and unheeding. When billions are pumped into prohibition without producing any significant reduction in drug use - during a period of austerity no less -  it makes a mockery of our system of governance.

There is no doubt that correcting our drug policy will be a complicated endeavour, but at present the UK’s illogical attitude towards narcotics weakens the integrity of our democracy. Colorado might seem far away, but with the list of proven benefits now becoming too large to ignore, there has never been a better time for drug reform in the UK.

READ MORE
Why Nicole Scherzinger's battle with bulimia matters
Hunting beautiful animals doesn't "help" them
Now we can see where the right to be forgotten leads

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Mentor for people who have offended

This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...

Business StudiesTeacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Supply Business Studies Teacher...

English Teacher

£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: English Teacher - CaerphillyT...

Cover Supervisor, Folkestone School - full time and part time

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We have urgent and multiple vaca...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Cameron’s speech, his place in history, and the Pedant Club

John Rentoul
 

Why Facebook won't be feeling threatened by Ello...yet

Ed Rex
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?