Britons over the age of 18 could soon buy and smoke recreational cannabis if the Liberal Democrats win the general election.
Tim Farron’s party pledged to legalize the sale of weed in high street shops, in a policy that seems to mimic the drugs laws that made the Dutch capital Amsterdam famous.
“What we currently do is bad for health and mental health,” former Lib Dem MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert told BuzzFeed.
“The market is run by criminal gangs and they have no interest in public health – the system is causing huge amounts of harm. The prohibitionist approach costs a huge amount of money, means we criminalize a large amount of people, and increases the harm. We spend a lot of money making people’s lives worse. That cannot be correct.”
The party expects to raise around £1 billion (about US$1.29 billion) annually in taxes derived from the sale of pot and use the money to bolster police, prison and health services. It also says the policy would crush criminal gangs, regulate the quality of the product sold and make it safer for consumption.
The policy was warmly welcomed by Lord Nicholas Monson, whose youngest son Rupert died following a battle with addiction. The 21-year-old committed suicide in February after becoming dependant on the powerful cannabis derivative called skunk.
“Seven weeks ago, Rupert took his life in violent fashion. In his last six months, he had become psychotic. Sectioned once, he suffered the full gamut: schizophrenia, false memories, paranoia and visitations. One was from a comedian, the rest of his mind’s gatecrashers were ghouls. Kill yourself, they commanded. So, he did,” Lord Monson told the London Evening Standard.
“In tackling this issue head on in their manifesto, the Liberal Democrats have grasped the nettle where all other parties have manifestly failed. The business model of gangsters would be broken. Our children will be protected,” the peer added.
However, the paper’s management, which currently counts former Conservative Chancellor George Osborne as editor, was not as supportive of the policy.
“Although this paper is at present sceptical that this is right for Britain, we could be convinced if the evidence stacks up,” the paper’s Friday editorial read.