Liberal Democrats promise a legal cannabis market in the UK

Ben Gartside
Cannabis is legal in Canada and parts of US. Photo: Getty

The Liberal Democrats have announced their support for a regulated cannabis market in their manifesto ahead of December’s general election.

The manifesto, which describes the attitudes of the Labour and Conservative party as “prohibitionist”, attacks both parties as being “driven by fear rather than evidence and has failed to tackle the social and medical problems that misuse of drugs can cause to individuals and their communities”.

The party has pledged to support a regulated market within the UK, based on existing models in the US and Canada, which will include a “robust” approach on licensing.

There will also be legal protections surrounding potency levels, and only permitting licensed premises to sell the drug to adults over the age of 18.

To counteract harms of drug use, the Lib Dems have also pledged to move away from the criminalisation of drug users, encouraging users to go into treatment and for civil penalties to be enforced instead of imprisonment.

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson campaigning in Bermondsey, England. Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

According to manifesto costings, the government’s income from saving money in regard to police time and duty from sale will amount to £1.5bn by 2024/25.

In a 2018 report, Health Poverty Action said that the legalisation of cannabis could earn the treasury up to £3.5bn.

Uruguay was the first country to legalise Cannabis in 2013. It is also legal in Canada and some states in the US. In the Netherlands, it’s not legalised but decriminalised for personal and medicinal use.

The global cannabis market is thought to be worth $150bn and a Barclays’ European Consumer Staples report from 2018 estimates it will likely be worth $272bn by 2028, according to the Green Fund, a global research and advocacy group with focus on cannabis industry.

In Britain, as in many other countries, deep suspicion and scepticism remains around legalising cannabis.

READ MORE: Why America's legal weed sales could triple in the next five years