In recent years they have tended to move away from the libertarian view that it is adults’ own business what they drink or smoke, to the approach of “harm reduction”, saying that legalisation would ensure quality of supply and take the business out of the hands of criminals. The licensing and control regimes applying to alcohol and tobacco are often given as examples of how cannabis should be regulated.
But, given the current official line towards tobacco, is that something they would really hanker after? It’s taxed to buggery, you can’t consume it in indoor public places, you can’t even put containers on view in retail outlets, it is the subject of constant heavy-handed health campaigns and its users are vilified as smelly scum unable to master their own cravings. A trip to ASDA to buy some fags is now not entirely unlike inspecting the contents of the dealer’s clandestine stash.
Legalisation would give employers, insurers and health professionals a green light to discriminate against cannabis users in a way that is impossible while it remains illegal. And, if taxation was anything like that applying to tobacco, the black market would not go away, and the problems of adulterated supply and criminal racketeering would still be with us. Legalisation would also make it easier for illicit traders to go about their business, as mere possession would no longer be an offence.
In practice, is it perhaps better kept illegal, untaxed and under the radar? And might legalisation, regulation and taxation take away some of the frisson of using it in the first place?