An article published by IBTimes UK looks at the arguments for and against cannabis legalization.
The outcome to Italy’s parliament discussions could be to legalize possession, use and production of cannabis. Those in favor say it would bite into the mafia’s profits. Those against legalization are the conservatives, and in particular, the Catholic Church.
Should the law be voted in, it will still be forbidden to use cannabis in public, and possession would be limited to 15g at home, and 5g on the street. People will not be allowed to grow more than five plants.
Many nations have been discussing legalizing cannabis over the past few years, and the issue is taking centre stage. The UN asked for more ‘humane solutions’, and said there was a necessity to move away from repressive legislation at a special session on drugs in April.
Here, there were opposing views on the topic, and many countries disagreed that the issue should be promoted. The final agreement at the meeting was to maintain prohibition policies banning narcotic use, including cannabis.
The first question: Should cannabis be legalized or decriminalized?
Many countries in Europe have decriminalized the use of cannabis, which doesn’t mean people using it won’t face consequences. However, small quantities would not land a user in prison. They might receive a fine or some form of punishment. Selling cannabis is still considered to be a criminal offence.
In contrast, legalization means people won’t face any penalty for using cannabis, and any ‘business’ activity linked to cannabis is legal. People may sell, produce, and transport it, and not face charges.
The debate for and against legalization of cannabis is complex. Activists in Italy focus on the fact that the mafia around the world would be weakened, as illegal drug sales reinforce criminal networks, and provide a lucrative market.
But it is on the health aspects of cannabis that the divisions between advocates and opponents are the most apparent.
Those opposing legalization cite the claims by The World Health Organisation that prolonged heavy use has health risks, and that intoxication causes car accidents. They also remind those in favor of cannabis legalization that the UN has a drug free society as a goal, and that legalizing cannabis could encourage usage.
This remains uncertain, as some states in the US show legalization has not led to an increase in consumption, especially amongst adolescents. Perhaps more time is needed to accurately assess the consequences of legalization.
Cannabis is often described as a stepping-stone to hard drug use, and many believe that if it is legalized, this will happen even more frequently. A recent report published by the Institute of Economic and Social Research reveals that this argument has often been exaggerated.
The argument for legalization claims cannabis is less addictive than alcohol and tobacco. A study in 2011 in the UK showed 79,100 deaths related to tobacco and 8,748 deaths related to alcohol. In contrast the National Program on Substance abuse records six deaths in England in the same year that were related to cannabis use.
If cannabis is legalized, users won’t be treated as criminals, and they might seek help more easily if addicted. Licensed growers can control potency, making it safer to use.
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If the cannabis law changed it would make it a credible medicine.
If the law on cannabis changed, it will facilitate access for medical use.
The many benefits to cancer patients, and those who suffer chronic pain induced by inflammation, and many, many more medicinal uses of cannabis have already been suggested by research. The illegality of cannabis is what is preventing clinical trials from being done to substantiate these claims. If cannabis is legal, researchers will have a much easier task getting funding to look into these claims.