Today, Think tanks have urged the government to radically rethink its policy on drugs, as it was revealed that taxpayers could save almost £900m per year once cannabis was legalised.
A report made by the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) said that legalising the drug would lessen the spending by prisons, police, the NHS, and courts and place a huge amount of money back in the pockets of taxpayers.
It said that the health service would be able to gain the most from such a transition, making back £132.6m from not prescribing pain-relief medicine, anti-depressants, and sleeping tablets which had been given out as a result of patients who are smoking higher-potency ‘skunk.’
However, £50m of the savings would also be made as the police would be able to save time on enforcing the ban on cannabis, while it would result to the probation service saving approximately £141m per year.
As he called for the UK government to rehash its “heavy-handed” policies, Ben Ramanauskas, the writer of the report, stated: “It is clear that the current attempts to prevent cannabis use are an enormous burden on taxpayers that mean their money isn’t spent on other priorities.”
Some of hte leading think tanks agreed with the conclusions of the TPA. The head of programmes at the Adam Smith Institute, Daniel Pryor, said that the approach of the government to cannabis had been an “expensive failure.”
“We’ve handed control of the market over to criminal gangs, criminalised adults for using a low-harm consumer product and punished the minority of users who do need support,” he argued.
“The potential savings detailed in this report could be used to fund support services for problem cannabis users and put money back in the pockets of taxpayers,” he added. “It’s time to take back control from the gangs by legalising and regulating cannabis.”
The Institute for Economic Affairs’ head of Lifestyle Economics Chris Snowdon had similarly disparaging words to say on the government’s policy towards cannabis.
“The war on drugs is a war on people. It has only succeeded in making cannabis more dangerous than it ought to be,” he stated.
“Thanks to the rise of ‘skunk’, the costs to the NHS are rising despite the number of cannabis users falling. There is no doubt that hundreds of millions of pounds could be saved if we followed the lead of a growing number of US states by legalising, taxing and regulating this product.”