MP Nick Clegg has backed a report calling for cannabis to be legalised in the UK.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has backed the research calling for cannabis to be legalised in the UK, and the Sheffield Hallam MP claimed the move would allow the Government to take control over the drug away from criminal gangs.
A study by the Adam Smith Institute and Volteface, published today, argues the UK should follow the lead of the United States, where four further states legalised marijuana in this month’s elections.
It came as Germany gets ready to legalise cannabis for medical purposes and Canada prepares for all-out decriminalisation.
The report argued Britain’s 'dark ages' drugs policy has failed to stop drugs being manufactured and used, and to stop associated crime, corruption and killing.
It called for 'root and branch' reform to legalise and regulate cannabis to ensure it meets acceptable standards, and to remove the market for criminal gangs.
A legal cannabis market could be worth £6.8bn to the economy annually, potentially netting between £750m and £1.05bn in tax and reduced criminal justice costs, the report claimed.
It added the number of offenders in prison for cannabis-related offences in England and Wales would also likely drop from the current 1,363, who cost taxpayers £50m a year.
Mr Clegg said: “British politicians need to open their eyes to what is happening in the rest of the world.
“Cannabis prohibition is being swept away on a tide of popular opinion and replaced with responsible legal regulation. Now is the time for ministers to start writing the rules for this legal market, including age limits and health warnings, so that we can finally take back control from the criminal gangs.”
The report received backing from MPs on all sides of the House of Commons.
Tory MP Michael Fabricant said: “There can be no doubt that just as prohibition on the sale of alcohol failed in the United States and encouraged gangsterism, the banning of drugs has promoted a wicked and lucrative black market which pushes illegal drugs on the innocent.”
And Labour MP Paul Flynn added: “The UK’s 45 years of harsh prohibition has multiplied use and harm. A legal market would destroy the drug’s attraction as forbidden fruit and encourage users to ingest cannabis, of known strength and quality, in ways that will the avoid deadly dangers of smoking.”