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David Lammy, UK MP for Tottenham, London, recently visited Canada, along with two MPs from other parties, on a fact finding mission to look into the countries approach to legal cannabis. All three returned proclaiming that cannabis should be legalised in the UK, and that they could do it better than Canada.
Writing in the Guardian about some benefits of general legalisation rather than just medicinal routes, Lammy commented, “The potential benefits of legal regulation go beyond hurting the bank balances of criminal gangs and reducing the disproportionate criminalisation of certain groups. In the UK, children find it easier to access cannabis than alcohol. Taking cannabis out of the hands of street dealers and putting it behind the counter in shops with security guards and ID requirements would help protect those under 18.”
He further advocated for regulation to protect users: “For adult users, there would be more mellow alternatives to the super-strength skunk linked most closely to psychosis, which currently makes up around 94% of the black market. Regulation means we can control and lower the average THC levels significantly, reducing mental health concerns.”
Suggesting that procurement in the UK should be aligned with other consumer products, he compared the ease of purchasing cannabis products in Canada to ordering a BigMac, noting, “Touchscreens allow users to choose between oils, leaf, pre-rolls and pills as easily as picking between a Quarter Pounder or chicken nuggets in McDonald’s.”
The MP also admitted that overcoming competition from the black market in a regulated manner would be a key hurdle, writing, “Many countries have opted for decriminalisation. This reduces pressure on police but sustains an illicit market,” adding, “The biggest challenge is to make the regulated market attractive enough to beat the black market, but not to glamorise it in a way that will increase consumption. If implemented correctly, legal regulation should reduce social and health harms to a minimum.”