Reflective Project Should Cannabis be legalised in UK? Introduction Over the years, there has been several debates and discussions on the legalisation of cannabis in the UK. Cannabis legalisation has been a subjective issue in many countries. Different countries differ on the various use necessitating its legalism; this raises a serious question about the legality of cannabis. My project centres on the legality of cannabis in the UK. In this project, I shall be looking at the medical benefits, both medical and social as well as issues in regards to the use of cannabis, countries that have legalised cannabis, and the legalisation of cannabis usage. My project will conclude on my personal view on the subject matter. Literature review Cannabis is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant intended for medical or recreational use. This drug would also be famously known as: Weed, hemp, Marijuana, Pot, Blunt, etc. Not only is it the most illegal used drug in the United states, it is also legalised in many other countries. Other countries not including the UK. There are a numerous amount of cannabis in this world and more yet to discover. A few would be Black beauty, super glue, Buddha’s sister, Bullrider, Grape Kush. From studies, it has been stated that each type of cannabis gives a certain effect to the individual’s body, with somewhat ‘strengths’ to the level of how strong the type of cannabis that they are inhaling. ”Gateway drug?” Studies state that, it is suggested that marijuana has a likely chance to forego the use of licit and illicit substances and also a gradual development of an addiction to the use of other substances that are linked to cannabis. Due to an Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders, it has be found that the adults who reported marijuana use during the first wave of the survey were more likely than adults who did not use marijuana to develop an alcohol use disorder within 3 years; while the people who had used/ use marijuana with an alcohol use disorder were at greater risk of their alcohol use disorder worsening. The use of marijuana can also be linked to other substance use disorders which include a nicotine addiction. Other studies state that by partaking of cannabis, human risk being inexorably led to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. As the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) says ”Early exposure to cannabinoids in adolescent rodents decreases the reactivity of brain dopamine reward centres later in adulthood” which ”to the extent that these findings generalize to human, this could help explain the increased vulnerability for addiction to other substances of misuse late in life that most epidemiological studies have reported for people who begin marijuana use early in life.” Cannabis is more of a harmless drug compared to all the other known drugs (Heroin, crack, LSD, etc.) it is the fact that the potential of cannabis being a gateway drug has come from its prohibition. Many people crave for something more if they are unable to get it easily while knowing it may be illegal, due to many cravings from different individuals this leads to the use of illegal markets, often from dealers who do not just sell cannabis but other substances also; not leaving any barriers nor blocks to these other stronger substances. It is an automatic force that will drive cannabis users to harder narcotics which are also just as illegal, and the illegal dealers will not hesitate to sell these harder narcotics. The prohibition that cannabis has, is what causes the connection. When the prohibition and connection between cannabis and dangerous narcotics are removed, it is argued that the dangerous narcotics will no longer be present in the equation any longer. Countries where cannabis is legalised There are many countries in the world that have legalised the use of cannabis, which may include cannabis stores and cafes. Some of these countries are: Austria. From studies, ”As of January 2016, possession and purchase of up to 5 grams of cannabis for personal use is decriminalized and offenders will not be punished, given that they cooperate with the health authority and undergo therapy”. However, there are some boundaries to this law as it states ”Cultivation, sale and transport of small quantities (<200g) is punishable by up to 1-year imprisonment. A sale is punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment, or up to 1 year if the perpetrator is addicted. Sale, transport, and cultivation of larger quantities (>200g) are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, or up to 3 years if the perpetrator is addicted. Regardless of a criminal conviction, anyone caught with cannabis by the police may have their driving license revoked unless they show prolonged abstinence from cannabis in several supervised urine tests.” Another country is Belgium. Since 2003, adults in Belgium over the age of 18 are allowed to possess up to 3 grams of cannabis and grow up to one cannabis plant on the privately-owned property. The sale and transportation of cannabis remain illegal. This shows the leniency that Belgium has compared to Austria. Thirdly, Estonia. ” The law defines a big amount of any drug as sufficient to cause intoxication in ten people, which, in the case of cannabis, the authorities currently choose to interpret as 7.5 grams or more of dried flowers. 80–90% of non-criminal drug offenders are fine, 10–20% are arrested for up to 30 days. Sale, transport, and cultivation of psychoactive cannabis remain criminal offenses in the country. Medical use of cannabis has technically been legal since 2005, yet up until 2016, only one Estonian patient had been prescribed cannabis-based medicine (nabiximols) for cancer pain.” Studies show that Estonia has the highest mortality rate from illegal drug users ages 16-64 in the world. Germany. The possession of cannabis is illegal, while consumption itself is legal on the basis of it being considered self-harm, which is not considered a crime. The possession of small amounts is prosecuted, but charges are virtually always dropped. The definition of this “small amount” varies depending on the federal state, the state of Berlin being the most liberal, allowing 15 grams for personal use in most cases, while most states do not prosecute up to 6 grams. Malta. ” Simple possession of cannabis is officially listed as an “arrestable offence”, however, possession of a minimal amount of drugs for personal consumption is effectively decriminalized. First-time offenders will be handed fines of between €50 and €100 in the case of cannabis possession. Repeat offenders will appear before a Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board, headed by the retired Chief of Justice, which will set conditions for rehabilitation. Breaching the conditions would be tantamount to a criminal offence.” A much known country, popular for their law of legalised cannabis is The Netherlands. Possession of up to six grams of cannabis is legal in the Netherlands for use in coffee shops, while possession of the same amount is decriminalized for public use. Cultivation of up to 5 plants is also decriminalized in the Netherlands, but plants are generally still destroyed if discovered by law enforcement. The sale of cannabis is legal in licensed coffee shops but remains illegal outside of licensed premises. Cannabis is allowed for medicinal use in the Netherlands. However, the critical analysis of these countries where cannabis have been legalised shows many flaws in the parameters applicable in determining the legal quantity and quality of cannabis. Although, proper policing and clear regulating parameters such as quantity of daily intake by the users, amount that can be cultivated and the quantity that can be purchased at a time. I believe with adequate monitoring and policing armed with clearly defined parameters such as quantity to be in possession, cultivate, and purchased, UK can successfully legalise cannabis and control its social effects. Discussion Health and safety issues As it may not have a large impact on an individual, this drug still has its side effects that many may ignore or have no knowledge of. From an epidemiological study, a light had been shed on the relationship between cannabis use disorder (CUD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). From the findings, it has shown a significant amount of individuals with CUD while also having SAD. Furthermore, SAD is associated with a greater severity of cannabis-related problems. Almost all individuals with both CUD and SAD have had at least one additional clinically significant psychiatric disturbance. ”Dr. Julia D. Buckner at Louisiana State University, Dr. Richard G. Heimberg at Temple University, Dr. Franklin Schneier at Columbia University, and Dr. Carlos Blanco’s team at the New York State Psychiatric Institute analyzed data from the 2001?2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Their results confirmed previous observations that patients with CUD experience high rates of SAD.” From a survey they have taken, out of the 43,093 respondents to the survey, 3,297 has reported to having drug issues consistent with CUD at a point in their lives. While there hadn’t been any documented deaths from a cannabis overdose, should not assure anybody that cannabis will have no side effects or is harmless. “The main risk of cannabis is losing control of your cannabis intake,” Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at New York University’s Marron Institute, said. “That’s going to have consequences in terms of the amount of time you spend not fully functional. When that’s hours per day times years, that’s bad.” As many cannabis users believe that the substance is harmless and it will not hurt them, this leads to a constant and addictive use of the drug. From some researches, ”the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that pot poses a variety of possible downsides — including respiratory problems if smoked, schizophrenia and psychosis, car crashes, general social achievement in life, and potentially babies in the womb.” Indicating that the effects are not short-term but also a high risk of longer-term effects. However, it is known for some issues but it does not show any correlation to issues that may be linked to tobacco such as lung cancer, head and neck cancers. Studies also show that it comes with benefits. Benefits in which will help some of these things: Chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-induces nausea and vomiting. Basic effects cannabis can have on an individual includes the heart rate speeding up, the breathing passages relax and become enlarged, blood vessels in the eyes expanding resulting in bloodshot eyes. Marijuana may also cause orthostatic hypotension which is head rush or dizziness on standing up which has the greater risk of fainting or falling. A few studies have shown a clear link between marijuana use in adolescence and increased risk for an aggressive form of testicular cancer (nonseminomatous testicular germ cell tumor) that predominantly strikes young adult males. Legalisation of cannabis use Until this day, it has been debated whether legalising cannabis will or not lead to more use due to contention. It is argued that regulating the use of this drug may reduce It while making the use safer while it can also be argued that the legalisation of cannabis will make it more easily accessible therefore resulting to it being more widely used and abused. A study shows the dependence of cannabis that the impact it has on certain age groups ”A comprehensive study from researchers at the RAND Corporation found that laws that allow medical marijuana dispensaries correlate with increases in overall pot use and dependence for adults 21 and older but only rises in dependence among youth. The findings suggest that allowing businesses to sell marijuana leads to more access and use, particularly for adults.” This increasing trends in the usage of the cannabis among young person or youth, as witnessed in some American States where marijuana has been legalised is not surprising, this has even led to increase in mental health issues causing depression, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders to heavy users. This heavy consumption is directly related to legalisation which makes cannabis and marijuana more readily available to consume without proper parameters to monitor or policing control. Another study shows how the legalisation of cannabis leads to binge drinking. ” Emory University researchers found that after some states legalized medical marijuana, they saw increases in overall marijuana use and, for adults 21 and over, a rise in binge drinking. The increase in binge drinking is particularly worrying because while marijuana carries few health and social risks, alcohol causes many serious public health and safety issues, such as liver damage, fatal car accidents, and violent behaviours that can spur crime.”. Regarding this findings, study have shown that excessive use of cannabis and marijuana can affect the brain and distort the ability to control ones desire for alcohol and substance abuse Legalisation of cannabis will not just have an effect on the society but also financially. ”As governments struggle with decreased revenue and rising expenditure, they look for creative ways to boost income to fund projects, such as new parks and road repairs. Now, some people believe that the legalization of weed could be a revenue generator in the form of new taxes applied to its sale and distribution. For instance, in Colorado, analysts recommend that taxing the drug could raise millions of dollars each year.” Therefore a boost in revenue will have a positive impact, linking to the debate of whether cannabis should be legalised or not. It is obvious that more income will be generated but the question now is if some funds will be set aside to tackle some possible social and health problems that may arise after the legalisation of cannabis. Funds from taxes and licensing should be made available for use when issues arise due to the legalisation. The revenue generation and cost saving aspect argues that the money spent on trials of cannabis related offences and maintaining the convicted persons in the prisons will be saved and ploughed back into the economy if the cannabis is legalised. The State will also generate income from sales taxes and licencing of dealers and distributors. Legalising cannabis includes a number of medical benefits. The most notable medical benefit is the treatment of patients who underwent chemotherapy. Therefore, certain states like California have executed resourcefulness for the legalisation of the drug for medicinal purposes. By legalising cannabis, and limiting the use of it brings personal freedom into the equation. Whether or not the drug has side effects, it will up to the right of each individual to decide on whether it them or not. Cannabis is highly addictive. Studies show up to one-in10 users develop dependence over time. Stopping marijuana use can lead to withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and irritability. Over half the 7.3 million people classified with illicit drug dependence or abuse in the United States are addicted to marijuana. Making it legal will mean more people will use it – including youngsters – and more people will become addicted Conclusion In conclusion of this project after taking into consideration the relevance of cannabis, it will be of much benefits to legalise cannabis in my opinion. It is quite understandable that cannabis has side effects on its users but there has been a continuous rise in its usage in the country. There is also fear in some quarters that legally making cannabis available will lead to abuse and addictions, as well as increase the number of drug users in the society. However, the legalisation of cannabis will not only allow the government to regulate the market but also generate revenues through tax and licensing instead of current strategy that enriches the illegal pushers. It will save the state huge costs in criminal justice system and prison expense on cannabis related offences and reduce pressure on available resources. Also the drug is known to be of benefit for health and medical use, the current shortage of supply will be removed by making it legal to purchase. More so, the crimes and violence related to illegal dealings of cannabis will be reduced, if not eradicated.