Happy 4/20!

We haven’t had a marijuana-themed post for a while, mainly because my life is far too burdened with responsibility to allow me to smoke much these days, and when I do blogging is the last thing on my mind, but I couldn’t let International Stoner Day go by without some mention of the noble weed.

None of the main parties contesting the UK election are unequivocally in favour of legalising cannabis, but the Liberal Democrats, currently riding high in the polls, have historically been open to the idea of decriminalisation at least. Their manifesto does promise that their drugs policy in government would follow scientific advice, which is increasingly coming out against prohibition.

It would be nice to think that the Nick Clegg is a secret toker who would make legalisation of pot a red-line issue in the coalition negotiations that would occur in the event of a hung parliament, but sadly this seems unlikely.

There are more promising developments across the Atlantic in California, where a ballot initiative proposing the legalisation of marijuana is due to be voted on in November. One of the driving forces behind the measure is the Golden State’s ballooning budget deficit; supporters claim that regulating and taxing pot sales could raise up to $1.4 billion annually. If the bill passes and the money starts rolling in it may be hard for a cash-strapped government over here to resist the temptation to grab a piece of the action.

The final piece of the puzzle may, paradoxically, be the emerging evidence that links cannabis with serious mental health problems. This was the rationale given by the Home Secretary when harsher penalties for cannabis possession were reintroduced in 2008, against the advice of the government’s own advisers. However the counter-argument, that the risks associated with cannabis make it imperative that it is properly regulated, and treated as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice, will hopefully gain ground, especially if our Californian cousins lead the way.

These things move slowly though, and I doubt that we’ll be able to light up legally by next April 20th, whoever wins the election. I can only hope that it doesn’t take too long, and my dreams of spending my retirement tending my own little patch of green can come true.

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