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Enforcing Marijuana Prohibition in the UK Wastes One Million Hours of Police Time

The Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom want to legalize recreational marijuana, claiming prohibition is a waste of money and resources.

Research by the Liberal Democrats political party in the United Kingdom shows that over one million police hours were spent on enforcing prohibition in 2015. The party announced earlier this month that their manifesto would include a pledge to legalize marijuana and establish a regulated market.

Policing the ban on cannabis is a waste of time, money and resources, the Liberal Dems claim. Their research found that a total of 87,247 police caseloads related to marijuana were opened in 2015, with each case averaging an estimated £2,256 in taxpayer money.

Liberal Democrat candidate and former Home Affairs Select Committee member Dr. Julian Huppert explained his party’s plans ahead of publishing its wider manifesto, which calls for marijuana being strictly regulated to those at least 18 years old and purchased through licensed outlets.

“The current approach is a disaster for young people, whose mental and physical health is being harmed by an increasingly potent product,” Huppert said. “There are no age checks, and no controls on quality or strength. ‘Skunk’ is widespread and the only ID you need to buy it is a £20 note.

“Successive governments have ceded total control of a significant public health problem to organized crime. The honest and pragmatic response is to take responsibility for this situation and regulate the market.

“Liberal Democrats will take back control from the criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis. We will restrict the market to over-18s. We will make cannabis safer by limiting THC content and requiring all products to contain CBD, which has been bred out of ‘skunk’ and counteracts the harmful effects of THC. And we will invest tax revenues of up to £1bn in education and treatment.”

DEA marijuana illegal

As of right now, cannabis in the UK is classified as a Schedule 1 Class B drug. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, those caught in possession are susceptible to up to five years in prison. Sellers of the substance can be sentenced to 14 years.

A report from the Adam Smith Institute last November argued that Britain’s harsh prohibition drug policy had failed to prevent the production of marijuana and any crime associated with the illegal industry. Legalizing and regulating marijuana, the report estimates, would produce a market worth £6.8 billion.

The Liberal Democrats have campaigned to legalize marijuana in the past. Last year former health minister Norman Lamb attempted to bring in a legalization bill, but it failed to progress despite it being supported by nearly half of those in Britain.

With its manifesto, the liberal party is making it clear that it’s committed to once again backing the creation of a regulated, legal cannabis industry if elected in the June 8 General Election.

You can learn more about the current cannabis laws in the UK by visiting our education page. Keep up with the ever-developing cannabis legislative changes in the United States and internationally by visiting our news feed.