Scotland: Government Think-Tank Backs Taxing And Regulating Cannabis

Edinburgh, Scotland: Taxing and regulating the sale of cannabis would reduce many of the social hazards associated with the use of pot and other illicit substances, according to a study released this week by the Scottish think-tank, Futures Forum.“Sending people to prison for low-level alcohol and drug-related crime is unproductive and … unsustainable,” the report concluded. “There should be in place a new approach to regulation in Scotland and elsewhere, based on evidence, whereby regulation of all psychoactive substances – including currently illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco, prescribed medicines and other legal drugs – will be governed by a single framework, which takes into account their different levels of potential risk.”

The Forum recommended that this “new approach” should include a system for taxing and regulating cannabis sales – arguing that legalizing the drug would sever its association with other illicit substances.

The Forum’s recommendations come just weeks after British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans to reclassify cannabis to a Class B ‘hard’ drug. Upgrading cannabis’ classification would increase the penalties for minor pot possession from a verbal warning (under current law) to up to five years in jail.

The Futures Forum is a body of experts created by the Scottish Parliament to advise legislators on various public policy issues, including drug and alcohol abuse.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government criticized the report’s findings, saying that there is “no reasonable case” for legalizing cannabis.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the report, “Approaches to Alcohol and Drugs in Scotland: A Question of Architecture,” is available online at: http://www.scotlandfutureforum.org/assets/files/report.pdf.