Cannabis Prohibition Has Created A Crime Wave In Britain
The cannabis market in Britain is estimated to be worth £6 billion pa. It is a massive industry, twice the size of the fresh fruit market, three times the size of the cheese market and even bigger than the entire chocolate and confectionery market, yet it is all illegal, uncontrolled and unregulated. No tax is paid by the people who work in it, nor on the profits they make and VAT is not collected. (Sources: cannabis, Atha et al 2011; food, Mintel 2011)
The profits to be made from producing and supplying cannabis are maximised because the trade is illegal. At a time of high unemployment and falling living standards, the opportunity for untaxed income from the black market has promoted an industry that reaches into every section of society.
As the police wage a campaign against the production of cannabis, the street price goes up. This is regarded as a measure of success by the government yet as the price rises, violent, organised crime gangs take a stronger grip and their methods become more violent and more unscrupulous. "Gardeners" are the victims of human trafficking, rented properties are gutted and destroyed, electricity is stolen and unsafe wiring becomes a very real fire hazard, impacting on neighbours and adjoining properties.
The gangs' only interest is a product that looks good, is as strong as possible and is turned round quickly so as to fetch a higher price at maximum profit. Rapid turnover of crops requires powerful fertilisers and high levels of organo-phosphate pesticides. No regard is paid to the safety of the product which may contain poisonous and dangerous residues.
The product from these illegal cannabis farms is of unknown strength and unknown cannabinoid content. Usually it is harvested too early, before the CBD content has developed, so that the THC content is high and the psychoactive effect is unbalanced and potentially more harmful. Yet again though, this is regarded as a measure of success by the government even though it results in a more harmful product for consumers. It is the equivalent of high-strength "hooch" and "moonshine" produced during alcohol prohibition in the USA.
Peter Reynolds said:
"It seems that the British government's policy on cannabis is harm maximisation.
The Labour government sacked its chief drugs advisor because it didn't like the truth he told and now David Cameron has U-turned on the position he declared when he first became an MP. No effort at all is made to protect consumers. Instead, scientific evidence is ignored and scare stories in the tabloid press are preferred, all in the interests of the alcohol industry and with no regard at all to the harm caused to our society.
It is like King Canute trying to hold back the waves. The government cannot stop the demand for cannabis but it could do an awful lot to reduce the harms caused by its irrational and unscientific policies."
Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) is a political party registered with the Electoral Commission under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) to promote the cause of cannabis law reform, with the aim of replacing the anarchic mess of prohibition with a framework of real legal control which would allow proper control of the trade, ensure proper regulation of the product in terms of strength and purity and provide proper protection for vulnerable people such as children.
If you would like more information on this topic or an other aspect of the work of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), or to arrange an interview with Peter Reynolds please contact him on 07880 872022