By L.P. Olden
For hundreds if not thousands of years, mankind has used Alcohol and Cannabis recreationally to celebrate and deal with the sombre moments of life.
Both substances entered prohibition in the early 20th Century, but since the 1920s the reputations of the two have diverged with alcohol simply considered part of life while cannabis still carries a stigma of malfeasance. Crime and a variety of negative stereotypes are often rolled out in any debate about Cannabis legalisation.
In recent times an increasing number of people are contemplating the legality of cannabis more objectively. It seems senseless to deem a substance with such potential as a medicine that could treat an array of diseases, as an illegal substance. When alcohol, a legal substance, has a social cost of billions of pounds each year and wreaks destruction in many lives. There are those who say that a glass of red wine a day is good for your health. Even if that is the case, doctors will not be prescribing a bottle of whiskey any time soon.
Timing is never something you can plot for, yet the time for Cannabis to be universally accepted across the globe seems to be upon us.
The ever deepening destruction of the world economy, inflamed by the COVID-19 pandemic in conjunction with quantitive easing on an unprecedented scale and the inevitable devaluation of fiat currency which has played god since the abolition of the gold standard, will force governments and big business alike to contemplate fiscal solutions fit for the 21st Century.
The most blatant incentive for governments to legalise Cannabis is the revenue that will be generated through taxation. HMRC alcohol duty receipts from the fiscal year 2018/19 generated £12,111,000,000 in tax receipts. This is a substantial number and as public spending increases to try and keep the economy alive, income on this scale becomes more seductive to the government when contemplating legalisation. Read our comprehensive guide on the current laws on CBD in the UK.
The creation of jobs is also a key enticement. Jobs will be created in numerous aspects of the economy, from the farmers cultivating the plants right through to retail positions in Cannabis focused shops. There will be dedicated legal and financial companies established specifically for the Cannabis industry as well as renowned institutions forming teams with a focus on Cannabis. The forthcoming depression will leave many skilled workers without stable employment and the Cannabis industry will eventually be able to offer thousands of people a secure job, which they enjoy. Rather than importing raw materials and flower from abroad, many jurisdictions that are considering legalising Cannabis are ensuring from the outset that domestic cultivation and processing are integral to any plans for legalisation, to be sure that their own economy reaps the rewards of the seeds they sow.
Increasing awareness of Health & Wellness coinciding with the decline in the attendance of nightclubs/bars will lead to a fall in alcohol consumption amongst the younger generations which will gradually be imposed upon their elders. As dating apps and other mediums devised to replace social interactions become more sophisticated and user friendly, the need and the desire for people to leave their home to socialise will dramatically decrease. Unemployment is already surging and gainful employment will be difficult to attain, even for highly educated individuals. The cost of alcohol and a night out on the town will become harder to justify and even unaffordable in many instances.
Alcohol not only has a negative impact on the user, it causes harm to those around them and society as a whole. A study carried out by David Nutt in 2010 entitled “Drugs harms in the UK: a multi criteria decision analysis” provided evidence that while Heroin and Crack caused the most harm to the user, Alcohol inflicted the most harm onto others as a result of the user’s consumption. The damaging effect of alcohol on others was double that of any other substance. The criteria defined as ‘Harm to others’ were family adversities, crime & injury and community, economic and environmental costs. The Economist published an article with greater insight into to the research, which can be read here.
Cannabis, in comparison causes one seventh of the damage and has potential health benefits. As the Cannabis industry evolves, smoking will no longer be the standard delivery method used by consumers. Sprays, patches, drinks and sub-lingual wafers are all examples of delivery methods that will not cause the same physical damage that smoking does. These new delivery methods are more convenient for the modern consumer and as they become more cemented in the public’s conscious association with Cannabis, the stigma surrounding smoking a joint will subside.
Therefore, in a world where any mistake or misstep you make tarnishes your name in perpetuity, using a substance that can influence you into acting out of character or in an illegal manner will soon become a risk many decide not to take. The sophistication of the surveillance that every individual is under is already close to being unfathomable and will only become more adroit as Artificial Intelligence evolves. A subconscious fear of the state and online judgement will creep into society and will be a factor that alters society’s drinking habits.
It could be argued that the fact alcohol is sold in every supermarket and numerous other locations makes it more accessible and therefore more likely to be abused. The social impact of legalising Cannabis can only be assessed once the law has changed. While there are already millions of regular Cannabis users in the UK, any data collated to estimate the social impact of legalisation would be speculative. Ensuring all users are over the age of 18 is crucial, as there is evidence that Cannabis has a more lasting effect on teenage brains.
Ultimately Alcohol destroys countless lives, directly and indirectly and costs the NHS millions of pounds a year. Upon legalisation, it is not farfetched to believe that Cannabis will slowly take its place and become the accepted medium of social intoxication to deal with reality and social interactions.
Cannabis on the other hand is a drug far more befitting of the 21st Century.
Cannabis beverages are going to be one of the most widely available methods of consumption. It is not unreasonable to suggest that in the near future when you go to meet your friends for drinks, those drinks are THC/CBD cocktails or soft drinks as opposed to beer or wine. Once this is presented as an option in restaurants and bars, curiosity at the very least will encourage people see how they fare on a night out drinking Cannabis based beverages.
CBD is extensively used by people throughout the world as an aid to sleep, pain and mental health issues. It is just a small insight into the positive impact full legalisation could have on the daily lives of millions of people. Drugs like Oxycontin, Prozac and Xanax have played a part in the demise of countless souls across the world. Cannabis offers solutions to the problems these drugs are pretending to solve.
With the Medical Cannabis industry taking shape, there is already a prevalence of innovation and groundbreaking research. Resulting in new medical delivery methods and alternative treatment of conditions that large pharmaceutical companies have monopolised through creating barriers of entry so high that no alternatives can be devised. The unique selling point of Cannabis will allow Cannabis based medicines to compete with established painkillers and drugs prescribed for mental health issues. There is an extraordinary amount of research that still needs to be undertaken to ensure Cannabis treatments are safe and viewed as the pinnacle option for certain ailments.
1 in 4 people now suffer a Mental Health issue every year. This obvious mental health crisis that has been inflicted upon society through the destruction of family ideals, social media, comfortable isolation and the disillusionment with the concept of community. However, it could be argued that depression and other mental health issues have always been prevalent in humanity but it is only now that the majority of people’s basic needs are satisfied, more existential problems are allowed to manifest. Social Media also allows people to document their feelings and say things they may not have the courage to say in person, therefore allowing them to disclose their true feelings rather than maintaining a facade of happiness or contentment.
Regardless, early research suggests that Cannabis can offer treatments for mental health issues that do not come with the same detrimental side effects of many anti-depressants or drugs prescribed to those diagnosed with personality disorders. Treatment of people’s mental health is integral to the prosperity of society as a whole. Depression and other conditions are infectious, a destruction of the mental state of a family member, close friend or lover will inevitably affect your own mental health, ultimately damaging your contribution to the world. Cannabis based medicines can be prescribed to those in need and can hopefully lead to a more holistic treatment of mental illness rather than the current system of hastily prescribing pills.
Many would argue that there is not yet sufficient evidence that Cannabis is safe to prescribe for patients suffering with mental health issues. For instance, a study undertaken over a period of 5 years concluded that differences in frequency of daily cannabis use and in use of high-potency cannabis contributed to the striking variation in the incidence of psychotic disorder across the 11 studied sites. This is an example of why more data needs to be collated by the Cannabis industry to prove both safety and efficacy. It is important to note that high potency Cannabis was used in this study and illustrates why research into how Cannabis can treat different conditions is so important. The correct THC:CBD ratios and concentrations must be proven before the NHS or the medical profession as a whole will truly see Cannabis based medicines as a solution to these issues.
The Cannabis industry is likely to coincide with the burgeoning Psychedelic industry. Psychedelics have the capacity to change people’s lives and their perspectives in a matter of moments. They are a powerful force that can allow people to see beauty within themselves and the plateau upon which they exist. Intertwining the two as a treatment for mental health could be a radical solution that provides unforeseen results. Integrating psychedelics with the inescapable development neurological technology, could present solutions to mental health that are beyond imagination. The capacity to use psychedelics as a weapon must also not be underestimated. If used nefariously, the indoctrination of a person under the influence of psychedelics could be a way of dealing with dissident citizens and methods of torture similar to the manner the CIA have already used LSD could be used by government agencies and private security companies.
Evidence collated from studies like this are vital for both the Psychedelic & Medical Cannabis industries to progress. Only with compelling evidence can the two become widely prescribed and be considered a sustainable area of medicine. It falls upon large companies within the industry to undertake clinical studies and even clinical trials to drive the industry forward.
It is the responsibility of both government and the Cannabis industry to change the public’s consciousness to instil the notion that Cannabis can be used for the power of good rather it being defined as a tool of decadence.