A recent Reuters article espoused that over half of adult Europeans are in favor of cannabis legalization with up to 30% also expressing interest in purchasing (ie. “actively using”) cannabis products. Strain Insider comments on what this means for Europe and Europeans.
First and foremost legalization of cannabis would be a triumph of liberal democracy over outdated and irrational cannabis policy. Supporting cannabis legalization is not about supporting drug use but rather supporting free choice. Europeans choosing cannabis are tired of being labeled as criminals.
Parents don’t want their children being hauled into court for acting like children (not to mention the police who are equally sick of arresting tearful teenagers) and the whole world is utterly sick of a prohibition policy that does nothing but suppress freedom and enable criminal cannabis production while simultaneously denying public health systems from actively managing extant cannabis usage issues.
That’s right folks, everyone on earth that wants cannabis already has cannabis, prohibition is an abject failure and it’s time to grow up and turn on the lights.
p.s. Europe, with the United States opting to delay decision making regarding the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (which would see the entire US removing cannabis from the federal controlled substances list) until at least August of 2022 the stage is set for European decision makers to scoop America.
The legal cannabis market in Europe is estimated to exceed 3 billion euros by 2025, a substantial increase of 750% from the preceding year. Continued reticence on the part of the Chinese government to legalize cannabis and increased energy costs of shipping will serve to buffer the European production market at least for the near future.
Production facilities in Malta will provide badly needed local tax revenue principally from supplying the developing European medical usage market with additional benefits to be realized upon legalization of commercial cannabis outlets supplying the nascent cannabis tourism sector. That said, the anticipated legalization of recreational cannabis in Germany will be the ultimate catalyst for the European cannabis industry.
Overall cannabis employment in Europe is difficult to estimate. As of 2021 the US has 430,000 persons employed full-time in the cannabis industry at a value of approximately 25 billion US dollars or 1 person per 58,000 US dollars gross revenue. Applying this same index there may be some 52,000 persons employed in the European cannabis industry in 2021.
Given the near exponential growth rate in the broader cannabis industry, the employment potential for those European nations moving to remove barriers is existential. This should more than compensate for job losses in the legal enforcement sector as persons so employed make the transition to regulatory enforcement and consultancies.
Crime bad taxes good (did I actually say that?)
Crime pays or should we say crime doesn’t pay. Taxes that is. North America has not experienced the anticipated large reductions in criminal cannabis production largely due to price competition resulting from taxes applied to all levels of the legal cannabis sector from production to retail products (can you say irony?).
The opportunity for European nations to learn from North America and enact effective cannabis tax policy is certainly there. A correctly balanced tax policy will increase employment, tax revenues and realign criminal financial resources toward the mainstream economy. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em.
Cannabis was used for thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of years for its specific medicinal properties. Recreational usage over the same time period, however, was recognized but not recorded as a significant public health issue. Prohibition and criminalization in 1930s and the subsequent politically and racially motivated (and corporate-financed) anti-cannabis campaign served to detach humanity from the medical properties of cannabis.
It was during the rediscovery phase of cannabis fueled by the rebellious popular culture of the 1960s that the meme of “cannabis as narcotic drug of abuse” was born and the entire medical history of cannabis conveniently forgotten. It is only now that medical science has begun to unwind the jambalaya of myth and fact.
This is convenient since medical science is woefully short of fresh ideas for managing epidemic anxiety, depression, PTSD, and chronic pain. That said, the legalization of cannabis will serve to enable rational and much needed medical research into the risks and benefits of medical cannabis.
Public Health information
Speaking of risks, yes, cannabis usage has risks. The majority of Europeans support cannabis usage. This is to say the majority of Europeans support freedom of choice and rational thinking and behavior. I find it unlikely that the majority of Europeans support risky drug use behavior least of all on the part of adolescents or persons actively driving cars.
The majority decision is to allow freedom of choice and to trust that it is the right choice. It is the duty of cannabis users not to abuse this privilege and to think and act responsibly. Supporting strong public health systems and responsible usage guidelines is the right choice. Legalization will allow these systems to function properly and for the necessary safety information facts to be shared by all.
Environmental impact benefits
Further reading: A narrative review on environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation