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Britain’s weed laws should roll with the times


A group of police commissioners at this week’s Conservative Party conference argued that cannabis should be reclassified as a Class A drug, putting it on the same legal footing as heroin or cocaine. “It’s an outrageous suggestion,” says Niko Vorobyov in The Guardian, “and totally out of step with the rest of the world.” Even among relatively conservative countries, the UK is an outlier. Right-wing politicians back legalisation in Israel – and in the US, “once the world leader in the ‘war on drugs’”, marijuana has become so normalised that last year Washington state announced it would give away free joints as part of a Covid vaccination drive.

“Why are we still so backwards?” Studies consistently find a small link between heavy cannabis smoking and mental illness, but “no widespread effects” on society at large. And while the number of tokers – “and the strength of what they’re smoking” – has risen sharply since the 1960s, rates of schizophrenia in Britain have remained the same. Cases of psychosis aren’t up in Canada since legalisation, and the “vast majority” of weed smokers live “sane, productive lives”. More than half of Britons support legalisation. And the UK is one of the leading exporters of medicinal cannabis, while “bizarrely denying it to its own citizens”. As the world changes around us, our political and media establishment will look more like “out-of-touch dinosaurs”.