Alan's thoughts on smuggling, cannabis and legalisation
When Alan was involved with smuggling cannabis he saw himself more as a business man rather than a criminal. He was acquiring a product and then selling it on demand. He hurt nobody smuggling or by selling the cannabis. He finds it a shame that cannabis is now associated with hardened and dangerous criminals as the police would purport and is not like a gentlemanly affair he experienced in the 70's.
Also the cannabis he smuggled was always pure and of the highest quality; not mixed with any chemicals. He finds it heartbreaking when he hears of cannabis being laced with poisons contaminating its pleasurable properties.
When Alan was smuggling he rarely smoked cannabis. He did so in order to remain professional in carrying out his job. However Alan has enjoyed taking cannabis for recreational use when he hasn't been working. Alan does realise that cannabis can have harmful effects but from personal experience and reading news reports feels it is less dangerous than with alcohol and smoking.
Alan is undecided about the legalisation of Cannabis. He believes on the one side it would be good that people would be protected from getting it from serious criminals who could influence them to harder drugs. However on the flip side if the government did legalise it could mean it would be heavily taxed. So some people might still resort in seeing people in the underworld in order to gain tax free cannabis.
However if Cannabis was legalised the government could control what goes in and the people would know what they were taking. However from this control they may dilute the strength and effects. Alan thinks diluting cannabis would be bad as nothing should be taken away and Cannabis should be taken in its purest form. Alan purports they should have a strength system which would categorise the potency of different types of cannabis in regards to their effects. Rather like how units of alcohol are measured.
On a final note if cannabis was to be legalised or liberal drug laws introduced Alan willingly volunteers himself to be head of quality control in the UK.
Pros & cons for the legalisation of cannabis in the UK
To add to Alan's thoughts and feelings on the legalisation of cannabis we have included a list of pros and cons drawn from by researchers, religions, medical experts etc
Harmful effect of Cannabis
Pro - Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. Considerably more deaths are attributed to drinking alcohol and smoking than having cannabis.
Con - Cannabis is still a drug and has harmful side effects. Also unlike alcohol and smoking, Cannabis has a damaging hallucinatory side effect and has been associated to psychosis and memory loss.
Pro - Research by the British Medical Association has shown that nicotine is more addictive than that of cannabis.
Con - Cannabis is still a drug which people can become addicted too.
Pro - Unlike tobacco cannabis has medicinal effects. It has been found to be an effective treatment for the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Also the Complutense University in Madrid have from research found that cannabis could possibly be used to kill cancerous cells.
Con - Just because it can be used for medicinal purposes doesn't mean it should be legalised for social use.
Legalisation & Crime
Pro - Using cannabis can be a victim less crime if the cannabis user does it in the privacy of their own home, not hurting others and has not committed a crime to fund their habit. In this case why should the user be punished or have their freedom taken away merely because a lifestyle choice.
Con - If cannabis was legalised it could lead to an increase in crime as by decriminalising cannabis could mean more users. With more users there could be a proportion where it will serve to be a severe addiction which could lead to some users committing crimes in order to fund their habit. From statistics taken from the Netherlands in the preliminary stages of implementing liberal drug laws did lead to an increase in crime.
Pro - Legalisation could reduce organised crime involved in smuggling and selling cannabis. As people may be more inclined to acquire the drug and take it in a controlled and safe environments rather than seek it from someone linked with the underworld. Also buying from an illegal drug dealer means you don't know if the cannabis has been mixed with harmful chemicals.
Con - If cannabis was legalised the government would probably tax it. Also as it is a substance which in large doses could be harmful to health like alcohol and tobacco they would probably tax it quite high. This could in turn increase organised crime involved in smuggling and selling cannabis as they could provide cannabis cheaper and tax free. Using cigarettes as an example although it is legal, increased prices from taxation has been linked to the increase of people smuggling in cheaper cigarettes from abroad
Legalisation of Cannabis & the attitudes to harder drugs
Pro - Legalising cannabis could reduce people taking cannabis and other harder drugs such as heroin. When the Netherlands adopted liberal drug laws they saw a great reduction in hard drug use such as cocaine and heroin. Also in the Netherlands where liberal drug laws are in place they have reported lower rates of using cannabis in teens and use of heroin in adults than with countries where cannabis is completely outlawed like America. Also in 2009 from research done by Reinarman et al revealed that 85% of people who bought cannabis in Amsterdam did so in places where no other illicit drugs were sold. However in San Francisco where cannabis is outlawed people were three times more likely to report they could buy other illicit drugs from their cannabis suppliers.
Con - Who is to say what has happened in the Netherlands will happen here. Some argue a liberal attitude towards cannabis could soften people towards taking other drugs and harder drugs.
Legalisation of cannabis & the costs to the tax payer
Pro - It could be argued that by legalisation of cannabis would stop the waste of resources from the police on prosecuting people who enjoy cannabis without harming others. Also if Cannabis was legalised it would be probably be taxed. This money generated could be used to fund good schools and services. It could also be put towards rehabilitation programmes from people who become addicted to cannabis or other drugs.
Con - Some argue the money accrued from tax would be outweighed by the resources spent by police officers trying to stop people from smuggling in dope in order to sell it tax free.
Reinarman, Craig. (2000), The Dutch example shows that liberal drug laws can be beneficial. In: Scott Barbour (Ed.), Drug Legalization: Current Controversies. San Diego: Greenhaven Press. pp. 102-108.
Reinarman et al. (2009) Cannabis policies and user practices: market separation, price, potency, and accessibility in Amsterdam and San Francisco. International Journal of Drug Policy 20: 28-37.
Sandwijk, J.P., et al. (1995) Licit and Illicit Drug Use in Amsterdam II. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.
Gunning, K.F. (1993) Crime Rate and Drug Use in Holland. Rotterdam: Dutch National Committee on Drug Prevention.