Should ‘soft drugs’ like cannabis be legal? On 21 Febuary 2017, a majority of MPs in the Netherlands (77 to 72) arguably took a step in that direction when they backed new legislation to regulate marijuana cultivation under government control. Should other countries now follow their lead?
In theory, the weed business could bring in a decent amount of cash in tax revenue. The average coffeeshop in the Netherlands (where cannabis is decriminalised and taxed, but not technically legal) has an annual revenue of about €1.7 million from weed and hash. Nevertheless, business can be tough. The number of coffeeshops in the Netherlands has been declining over the years, from a high (aha!) of 846 in 1999, to around 582 in 2015.
Nevertheless, besides a potential tax boost, supporters argue that legalising cannabis could also bring about savings in the judicial system. If weed was legal, then less drug dealers and customers would potentially end up in the courts or jails. On the other hand, critics argue that even so-called ‘soft’ drugs can be highly addictive, and some argue that cannabis is linked to mental health issues like schizophrenia and depression.
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Nuno on our ‘Suggest a Debate’ page, arguing that cannabis should be legalised, regulated and taxed. Is he right? Or would that essentially turn the government into a drug dealer?
Should cannabis be legalised across the EU? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
My party is in favour, I’m a little bit reluctant… But you can say: ‘Is it more dangerous than alcohol’? Probably not. So, I think it should be left to the Member States, and it is still an open discussion with important pros and cons.
Nigel Farage (EFDD), Member of the European Parliament (NOTE: We contacted EFDD MEPs for comment but they did not reply in time for publication. The below is from an interview with Nigel Farage):
I personally think that the war on drugs was lost many, many years ago and that the lives of millions of people in Britain are being made miserable by the huge criminal element that surrounds the illicit drugs trade and I do think that Portugal does show us that perhaps there is a better, more enlightened way to deal with this… I’m not pro-drugs by the way, as someone with teenage children, and I’ve seen fairly close to hand the damage that drugs can do to young people. So I hate drugs, I’ve never taken them myself, I hope I never do, but I just have a feeling that the criminalisation of all these drugs is actually not really helping British society…