It's a yes from me.

 Cannabis. Should we make it legal or not? I say we because we are shortly going to vote on the issue and that vote will determine the answer to the question. So it is very much we who will decide whether or not cannabis should be made legal.

I have been trying to come up with an argument, either way, which has not been thoroughly aired and shaken out already. However I don't think there are any so we'll have to go over some old ones.

Those in favour of legalisation raise points like; cannabis is in widespread use already; prohibition in the US was a total failure; the government may as well tax it; it is claimed that cannabis has medicinal benefits; if alcohol and tobacco are legal why not cannabis? All of these angles can be argued convincingly.

Those against legalisation state that cannabis is harmful, it is claimed that cannabis has damaging effects on the human nervous system, causes long term memory and thought processing problems, and it is a known carcinogen. There are claims that cannabis can be, or indeed is, a gateway drug - itself easy to obtain and use but leading to the use of other more addictive and harmful drugs. 

Again, these views are easy to argue without too much fear of a slam dunk defeat from the opposing side, since there is a lot of evidence to support them.

So it comes down to personal views, emotions, and prejudice. By that I mean that many people already have a position on the matter and are unlikely to change it based upon anything they read or hear in the run up to the election and its associated referenda.

There is one argument which I have left out so far. It is not a new one but it is, to my mind, the most important: If you take the 'illegal' out of cannabis production, distribution, and use - you make it a whole lot less attractive to certain of the elements of society who seek to profit from it. Of course there is nothing wrong with attempting to profit from a free market, but using lethal force to protect a plantation, or standover tactics or even violence or the threat of it to protect a distribution patch starts to look decidedly dodgy. And since it is currently illegal there is no regulation of any aspect of the supply chain thereby leaving it all open to, shall we say, less scrupulous, operators than might be desirable.

I think, and I believe I have good reason to think, that if you take the illegal out you will also take the criminals out.  And with the criminals out the world - or at least our small part of it - will be a safer place. Many of us have seen it happen before as a result of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003. Therefore, whether or not I have any intention of using it myself, on that argument alone I will be voting for the legalisation of cannabis.


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