Following publication of his RADIX paper “Protecting Children and Young People from Harm: the public health case for a legal, regulated cannabis market”, Sir Norman Lamb was interviewed on Talk Radio.
Below is the opinion article to accompany the interview.
Liberal Democrat MP Sir Norman Lamb has told talkRADIO that legalising cannabis in the UK could help reduce the levels of violent crime on the country’s streets. These are his opinions and not talkRADIO’s.
The approach that I take is based on public health, that fighting a war on drugs as we do in this country and across most of the western world ends up having catastrophic consequences.
An awful lot of this horrific violence that we see on our streets in London, the gun and knife crime, a lot of it is associated with illegal drug trade.
Every effort over the last three or four decades to eradicate drugs from society has completely failed.
I think by legalising and regulating we can both protect teenagers’ health but also reduce the level of extreme violence in often the poorest communities in our country.
If you undermine the criminal market and you introduce a minimum age for legal sale, then you actually make it more difficult for teenagers to get hold of it.
Use amongst adults might go up but of course if you’re regulating it and capping potency then you can ensure that the product people are buying is safe to use.
We’ve been able with cigarettes, with tobacco, to actually significantly reduce use not through banning but through good public health messages, through stopping people smoking in work places and so on.
So you are able, with a legal product, to have an impact on behaviour and we ought to be behaving in the same way with cannabis as we do with any other products, such as alcohol.
Alcohol causes far more harm to society than cannabis ever will and yet the Exchequer makes a fortune out of the sale of alcohol and as do the drink companies.
So we just need to be consistent in our attitude and make sure that we take tax revenues from the sale of cannabis which can be used to fund our police, our NHS, our schools and we ensure that we protect the health of, particularly teenagers, who are at risk by buying on the streets from criminals who have no interest in your welfare at all.