Calls that weaken governments’ anti-cannabis stance spread across France, Italy, and UK
Springtime may come soon for cannabis in Europe, which for ages has criminalized it, or kept it away at arm’s length at best. The steady legalization of the cultivation and development of the plant as a medical drug has been gaining traction in countries like the United States, Australia, and Israel. With forecasts that liken it to the next gold rush and projected revenues of $37 billion, some countries in Europe are beginning to soften their anti-cannabis position.
Chances are, the change across the continent will start with the United Kingdom. About 47 percent of 2,000 people surveyed by The Independent said they will back the legalization of cannabis and its sales through regulated shops. A closer look at the study shows that a majority of cannabis supporters are male (53 percent) who belong to the moneyed AB class (50 percent) and are mostly based in Scotland (58 percent) and London (54 percent).
Cannabis proponents in the UK may find a powerful supporter in the Liberal Democrat Party which is actively lobbying for legalization. The sale of recreational marijuana, in particular, will be governed by certain regulations, such as the training of the shop vendors, limiting the sale to customers who are 18 years old and above; and labels describing this age requirement in the packaging. According to RT, the Party cites as advantages the $1.73 billion in sales that can prop up the national economy and the weakening of the power of criminal cartels which make enormous profits from shipping and selling illegal and harmful drugs.
In his interview with The Independent, the Liberal Democrat Party’s cannabis expert Norman Lamb elaborates further, “The introduction of a legalised, regulated market would deprive organised crime of billions of pounds every year. It would protect people’s health far more effectively because you would know what you are buying – and potency could be controlled.”
Italy decriminalized medical cannabis in January of this year, according to Merry Jane. Penalties have also been lightened for those violating laws pertaining to the cultivation of medical marijuana: the guilty party would be fined, instead of spending time in prison. The development and sale of recreational cannabis, however, still remains illegal.
Meanwhile, BBC reports that Jean-Marie Le Guen, the French Minister of State for Relations with Parliament, is currently a lone wolf in championing the cause of cannabis legalization. A physician by training and profession, Le Guen is arguing that prohibition has been proven ineffective. Recognizing the pitfalls that unregulated recreational cannabis can bring, he advises at the same time that the youth who use the drug must be given the proper information how to manage it. A health-based approach may prove to produce more positive results than censorship which only forces young people to find their source of cannabis through illegal means. A recent study by the World Health Organization may yet prove Le Guen’s points: of all the countries in the world, most of the 15-year-olds who smoke weed are based in France.
To counter long-entrenched fears about cannabis, the online publication Marijuana Times promotes informed and heavily-researched discussions about medical marijuana, its benefits, and its own farm-to-table process that adheres to the highest international standards. Its publisher Med-X, Inc. is a California-based health and wellness company that forecasts a $37 billion revenue after more than five years. Its crowdfunding campaign, which has opened the doors to both experienced investors and newbies alike, invites its target public to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the product and all its aspects, such as health and medical, the supply chain, and the business potential.
Meanwhile, Le Guen and other embattled cannabis supporters may want to take their cue from the more subtle approach adopted by Perleco, a gelato (or ice cream) parlor based in the northern part of Italy. It offers as a treat a dessert oozing with custard which has a few traces of cannabis that still fall within the boundaries of what is permitted by law. Merry Jane opines that Perleco’s gradual introduction of cannabis—from an ingredient to a lifestyle—will make the public more accepting of incorporating the plant and its use into their day-to-day norms.
To help educate the rest of their countrymen, some cannabis supporters find ingenious ways to introduce the benefits of the plant to their friends while subtly allaying their fears concerning addiction and abuse. It is a slow start, but a start nevertheless. From politicians, businessmen, students, to professionals, more and more proponents in Europe will be lobbying their governments to take a second and thorough look at cannabis and its legalization.