High societies: International experiences of cannabis liberalisation

Across the world, approaches to cannabis regulation are changing. This report reviews evidence from jurisdictions that have liberalised cannabis, assessing how they have impacted health, crime, and economic outcomes, comparing them against the UK’s prohibition regime.

  • There are calls to reform the UK’s prohibition approach to cannabis. Campaigners believe that current legislation is not fit for purpose, and the UK’s prohibitionist stance means it is falling behind other countries on cannabis policy.
  • Other countries are liberalising their cannabis policies. They have demonstrated positive impacts, such as limiting cannabis consumption and improving treatment, decongesting criminal courts, and strengthening the economy. There have also been some negative consequences to liberalising, however, including the corporate influence of cannabis markets, the exacerbation of socioeconomic inequalities, and increasing criminal gang activity.
  • There are lessons to be learned from other countries. This report looked at the policies of Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Canada, and the US states of Colorado and Oregon. When compared with prohibition, any of those liberalisation models could conceivably work in the UK.


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