Legalising cannabis would generate £1bn in tax, say the Liberal Democrats

Francesca Washtell
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Cannabis March And Rally Takes Place In Central London
The Lib Dem report claims legalisation would also help manage the health risks associated with cannabis (Source: Getty)

Legalising cannabis could raise £1bn annually in tax, a new study by the Liberal Democrats has claimed.

According to the report, "credible estimates" have shown £1bn in government revenue could be raised, and the panel conducting the study recommended taxing cannabis in line with its potency.

As has been the case in US states such as Colorado and Washington, the expert panel behind the report called for the sale of cannabis to be legalised to over-18s from specialist, licensed retail stores.

Other proposals included setting up a new regulator to oversee the market, allowing home-cultivation for personal use and setting up small-scale licensed cannabis social clubs.

“The reality is that millions of people use cannabis in the UK and there is a pressing need for government to take control of the trade from gangsters and unregulated dealers," chair of the expert panel,Steve Rolles, said.

“Legal regulation is now working well, despite the fearmongering, in Colorado and Washington and will roll out across the US over the coming years. A regulatory framework is in place in Uruguay and the Canadian government will legally regulate cannabis soon. This is no longer a theoretical debate - and the emerging evidence is only pointing in one direction."

The report also emphasised that risks associated with the use of cannabis would be "more effectively managed and minimised" through a responsibly regulated market and public health interventions, instead of the current system that consists of an unregulated criminal market and a punitive criminal justice response.

"Every year, billions of pounds are put into the pockets of organised criminals selling cannabis, and vast amounts of police time and resources are wasted, going after those using the drug," Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem's health spokesperson, said.

"We have to be ambitious. It is not good enough to continue pretending that everything is OK, or that the current system is working. Millions of British citizens are using cannabis with no idea of the potency of what they are taking."

Lamb made calls for the UK to legalise cannabis during the Lib Dem leadership election period last summer, when he went up against - and ultimately lost to - the current leader Tim Farron.

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