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- A legal cannabis market in the UK could boost the treasury by £1 billion ($1.33 billion).
- This is a figure so high it could offset the escalating NHS deficit.
LONDON – A legal cannabis market could generate over £1 billion ($1.33 billion) in tax revenue – a figure so high it could offset the escalating NHS deficit.
Health Poverty Action, an international development organisation, claims “the so-called ‘war on drugs’ was built on shaky foundations” and argues that regulation can “protect vulnerable groups and support public health,” in a report published on Saturday.
The report says that prohibition is “ineffective and expensive” and, by contrast, the creation of a legal cannabis market could generate “at least £1 billion annually, but potentially more” based on other comparable markets.
Regulated marijuana generates £1.4 billion ($1.87 billion) annually in the Netherlands, and £2.26 billion ($3.02 billion) in Colorado and Washington – the two states that became the first to legalise cannabis for recreational use in the US, in 2012.
Alcohol boosts the treasury by £1.9 billion ($2.54 billion) every year, while tobacco raises £3.5 billion ($4.67 billion), according to the report.
This means it could, in theory, offset the NHS deficit – which, according to figures from the last financial year, is “almost £1 billion.”
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Legalising marijuana has received support from the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party of England and Wales, and Healty Poverty Action claims it has other benefits as products would be tested and sold within required potency limits and there would be less pressure on policing.
According to a 2016 report in the Independent, it is a move that many in the UK are in favour of as 47% of people polled backed the sale of the drug through licensed shops. Of those polled, 39% were against while 14% voted “don’t know.”