From the moment that Canada led the way in legalization of recreational weed, lawmakers in the rest of the western world started shifting uncomfortably in their seats. Inevitably, the topic would come up, and there would be strong and passionate opinions on both sides. As legalization gradually spreads across the more progressive states in the US, Europe has largely adopted a “watch and wait” posture.
Of course, there have been some outspoken voices in various countries, but the latest person to speak out in favor of legalization has caused more than a few raised eyebrows. For one thing, he from the UK, a country not expected to be among the early movers in legalization. He also happens to be a high-ranking police officer.
A man with a plan
Arfon Jones is Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales. He has spent time in Uruguay, which was the very first country to legalize weed, even before Canada. Jones describes Montevideo as “one of the most prosperous capital cities in Latin America,” adding with a smile that regulating the cannabis market seven years ago clearly did not cause “the sky to fall in.”
Jones suggests a new regulatory plan for the UK, under which cannabis can be sold in pharmacies. He also advocates licensed cannabis clubs, along the lines of those operated in Spain, and most intriguingly of all, legalization of home cultivation.
Taking the power from the criminals
The UK has been waging a “war on drugs” for the past two decades, but Jones argues that penalizing recreational users does nothing to affect the criminal supply chain and only serves to damage lives and clog up the courts. Instead, by regulating the supply of cannabis and legalizing home cultivation, he would take the power and influence away from the criminal gangs.
It’s a compelling argument, but you might wonder how practical it is to grow cannabis in the UK as the climate is relatively humid and it rains often. This can be a problem, as cannabis dislikes being wet for too long. The short answer is that it means being selective in choosing the best weed for UK climate conditions. Autoflowering favorites like Super Silver Haze and Blueberry Automatic are prime examples.
A fresh approach
Jones feels that the regulatory system is overburdened by years of historical prejudice dating back to decades when we knew far less about cannabis. He draws comparisons with other recreational drugs that are legal, and argues that if tobacco, cannabis and alcohol were all looked at objectively, then cannabis would probably be seen as the least harmful of the three.
There is certainly a strong argument that it would be viewed as something that should be regulated no more harshly than alcohol, and should be available for consumption subject to age restrictions and other basic controls.
Jones’ stint as Commissioner will come to an end later this year, and it will be interesting to see whether this stifles the debate or gives him more freedom to share his views. Either way, the important thing is that the discussion is happening, and the right questions are being asked.