That One Policy

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If 5 years ago you had turned round to me and said Nick Clegg & the Liberal Democrats would be in Government and fulfilling key Liberal Democrat policies, such as raising the Income Tax threshold, introducing the Pupil Premium & making Same Sex Marriage legal to name just a few, I’d have laughed. Coalition is an odd beastie, filled with compromise. So to be asked to name one policy I’d introduce is an interesting one. There are So many things you could do: introduce the Single Transferable Vote for local & general elections, reform the National Grid to allow Microscale Generation and giving everyone a cat. However, for me, the one thing, as a liberal, I want to see introduced is legalizing cannabis, as part of evidence-based policy making with regards to drugs.

At a fresher’s fair here in Sheffield, I was handing out leaflets to tell people about what Liberal Democrats do, within 2 hours we’d already given out 200 leaflets in favour of legalising cannabis. The strength of feeling amongst the student population isn’t limited to Sheffield either. Earlier this year, York University Student Union passed policy to support evidence based drug policy and now the National Union of Students have accepted that policy[1].

However we need to look at the situation worldwide: The Transform Drug Policy Foundation commissioned Ipsos-MORI in February 2013[2] to poll on issues related to drug legalisation and decriminialisation. 53% of those polled support either legalisation or decriminalisation, while 67% support a review of drug policy. However, just because the public are in favour of it does not make it right.

It is recognised now that cannabis is less harmful that alcohol[3], yet those in possession spend up to five years in prison[4]. There will be those who say why not enforce similar penalties on alcohol then? However this argument is flawed for economical & social reasons.

Criminalising alcohol will damage the service sector just at a time when the economy is turning a corner. However, legalising cannabis gives the Treasury the ability to tax it, generating more revenue and building a stronger economy.

As a liberal, it is vital that we move towards a fairer society where everyone can do what they want, as long as it doesn’t harm others. If we accept that alcohol is the boundary of that and that cannabis is less harmful, then logically, cannabis must be legalised to the same status as alcohol.

And with cannabis legalised, finally the plight of drug addiction can be dealt with without stigmatising those who need help. This can be further shown in Government by moving responsibility for drugs from the Home Office to the Department for Health.

Legalising cannabis, as part of utilising evidence in drug related policy making, will help build the stronger economy and the fairer society that Nick Clegg & the Liberal Democrats are striving for. Doing so will mean more tax revenue and better treatment for those suffering the plight of addiction. This can only be a good thing.

Written by Harry Matthews, edited by Sam Toombs