It just doesn’t work

In the well informed document Cannabis production and markets in Europe published by The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, there’s a a list of arguments usually given “to explain the need to focus more law enforcement attention on it” (p. 221). It’s interesting to notice how all these arguments seem to be related to cannabis prohibition:

The first argument is that it is necessary to curb the violence and criminality associated with the cannabis market, especially with criminal gangs. Therefore, the need to control organised crime involvement in cannabis cultivation is a major argument for intensifying law enforcement activities.

If Cannabis was legal, it wouldn’t be associated with criminal gangs.

The second argument is centred on public health. Concerns about the harmfulness of possibly increasing THC levels, particularly on mental health, have been expressed in several European countries. Although the possible health risks of high-THC cannabis raise concerns among experts and feature prominently in the public debate, the risks are not well understood.

If Cannabis was legal the could be more control, more understanding of the risks and an open debate among users.

The third argument concerns public safety. The setting up of large plantations inside buildings often entails converting the premises, for instance to install watering systems, which may damage the property. Risks are also related to the heavy consumption of electricity that is necessary to provide artificial light for cannabis plants grown indoors. Unsafe methods to bypass electricity meters — to avoid paying large bills or raising suspicion — or ill-adapted wiring systems are reported to have caused fires in indoor plantations. Furthermore, conversion of premises, electricity theft and fires all result in financial losses to private and public home-owners and electricity suppliers.

If Cannabis was legal, growers wouldn’t need to use these dangerous methods, and a well exposed garden would do.

The fourth and final argument is of a more political nature. It relates to the large profits earned by cannabis growers, especially organised crime gangs. The profits reaped in the cannabis business may be used to bankroll other licit and illicit activities, or to fuel corruption, and thereby increase the power of the criminal organisations involved, which is viewed as a threat that must be addressed by law enforcement.

If Cannabis was legal, these profits would be taxed and spread among a large number of regular folks – not organised crime gangs.