Over the years, I’ve occasionally touched on the issue of cannabis legalisation. In theory, this is an idea for which I have a considerable amount of sympathy. However, I tend to be put off by the way that many pro-cannabis campaigners make a major plank of their argument the claim that cannabis is far less harmful than alcohol. Surely pro-cannabis and pro-alcohol advocates should be able to make common cause on the argument that both are substances that bring people a lot of pleasure and, if consumed responsibly, do little harm. The two are chalk and cheese and are not directly comparable.
To their credit, the Liberal Democrats have attempted to address the issue of what legalisation might look like. It’s not an issue that I have studied in depth, so I won’t attempt to give any kind of detailed commentary. However, I don’t see why ready-made cannabis joints shouldn’t be made available, and I also struggle to see why imports should be prohibited. Doesn’t cannabis from various locations have different characteristics?
Our first stop is in Bogota
To check Colombian fields
The natives smile and pass along
A sample of their yield
Sweet Jamaican pipe dreams
Golden Acapulco nights
Then Morocco, and the East
Fly by morning light
A couple of points in the report also demand attention from the pub and beer point of view. The first is that it suggests cannabis smoking is something that could be done in pub gardens. I can’t really see many licensees being happy to tolerate that, as cannabis, unlike tobacco, is to some extent a competitor product to alcohol. They might make more money from selling crisps and nuts, but it could give the pub an undesirable image. In any case, many cannabis advocates take the view that it’s not something that really belongs in the pub milieu, and it is better enjoyed separately. Why couldn’t it be smoked in council-owned parks?
The second point is that it proposes that people could set up non-profit-making “cannabis clubs” where they could get together to consume the product. All very well, but why shouldn’t tobacco users be able to create “tobacco clubs”? Which might even be allowed to sell the odd drop of alcohol too? Sounds like a good idea to me.
A fundamental issue that is skated over is that, in practice, cannabis is widely mixed in with tobacco, and the typical joint wouldn’t work without a combination of the two. The same would apply to ready-made cannabis cigarettes. See here, for example. But that creates an uneasy juxtaposition between something that the politically correct want to liberalise, and something they want to restrict. For that reason, if no other, I can’t see cannabis legalisation making much progress in this country.
And if legalisation happened, would cannabis users be subjected to the same degree of health nannying that smokers and drinkers have to endure?