By: Stig Even Lillestøl
Translated from Norwegian by Paul-Daniel Golban
Here are 10 reasons why cannabis use should be legalised.
1. Prohibition does not work.
Those who want to smoke cannabis today get ahold of it. When I visited a local high school in Kristiansand in order to talk about drug policies with the pupils, I heard than for many of them it is easier to get ahold of cannabis than beer. This are underage pupils. Children.
Statistics Norway (Statistisk sentralbyrå) reports that every fourth Norwegian between 16 and 64 years old has tried cannabis, so it is clear than it is not something difficult for adults either to get ahold of the substance. Prohibition provides then that the production, the distribution and the selling of cannabis falls into the hands of brutal cartels, criminal gangs in the cities, and drug dealers with bad future prospects.
Prohibition works negatively for many drug users, but cannabis is especially difficult to prohibit when we talk about a plant that regular folk can grow it in their shower.
2. Lost tax revenue for the Norwegian treasury.
If you buy an iPhone, a fishing pole, or a hairbrush, then the Norwegian state today demands a sum that is equal to 25% of the total sum of the product. This is what we call value added tax, or VAT (in Norwegian the slang term for it is “moms”). It is a tax that shops include in their prices and that must be paid to the state. In this way, the state earns money from what we buy. When you buy alcohol, the state earns even more, because then you must pay another very expensive alcohol tax. For a litre of whisky (40% alcohol), the state earned in 2021 the entire sum of 324 Norwegian crowns. This constitutes the majority of the sum for the more reasonable whiskeys.
There is enormous potential for the state to gain revenues from cannabis related businesses if it is made legal. As long as the prohibition is kept in place, and cannabis is reserved for the illegal market, the state does not get a single Norwegian crown. On the contrary, then the state must use a lot of money and time to prosecute the people who buy and use cannabis.
A reason why I do not only wish a decriminalization, but a completely and full-fledged legalisation, is because a decriminalization will not end the hyper-capitalist market which is reserved by the state to criminal sadists who gain by exploiting the weakest in our society. Only a legalisation will give access to law-abiding and sincere people to participate in a regulated and competition driven market for the production, distribution and selling of cannabis.
3. Lost jobs in Norway.
A report from “New Frontier Data” in the USA estimates that the cannabis industry can create 1.100.000 new jobs until 2025 if cannabis becomes legalized in the entire country. The USA has a population of 329 million citizens. This corresponds to 18.000 jobs in Norway with our 5.2 million citizens. However, we must mention that Norway and the USA are to very different countries, and therefore one cannot presume that prognoses for the USA can be used for making accurate estimations in Norway.
Exactly how many direct or indirect jobs we miss out on because of the prohibitions on cannabis here in Norway it is difficult to say. But what we know is that cannabis is the most widespread illegal drug in Norway, and on the streets a gram of cannabis is sold for around 200 Norwegians crowns. All of the 25.5% of Norwegians between 16-64 years old have tried cannabis at least once. Around 7% of Norwegian men have smoked hashish in the last 12 months. These numbers have been published by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet, or FHI) and Statistics Norway (SSB).
Based on this numbers, I will say that it is reasonable to imagine that there is potential for creating several thousand jobs in Norway after the complete legalisation of cannabis.
4. Safety for the consumer.
In 2015, a 22-year-old boy died in Norway after he has used synthetic hashish. The autopsy report showed that he died because of cardiac arrest. The risk of something like this happening is unfortunately something that all illegal drug consumers have to deal with. You do not know where the substance comes from, how it has been produced, or what kind of shortcuts the producer takes in order to deliver the drug to you as cheaper and as easy as possible. That is why hashish smokers should be able to buy cannabis legally at Vinmonopolet (The Wine Monopoly, a government owned store), the pharmacy or in shops, so they can know that they are buying a legal product from a serious business enterprise which follows the rules and regulations which are developed to protect our health.
A substance that is produced in a dirty bathtub in Mexico, or in an illegal laboratory in China, will never be as safe to consume as a substance that meets the demands from the law-making bodies, and that must be accepted by health authorities.
As it is already known, the plant “cannabis sativa” is not a very dangerous plant to smoke. No death toll can be linked directly to use of natural cannabis. The youth that smoke cannabis inside risk only a little higher appetite, possibly a fit of laughter and reduced ambition. It is a lot more dangerous to get drunk with alcohol.
David Nutt, a professor of psychopharmacology, says in an interview with Vice that prohibition of drug use almost all the time leads to the production of more powerful and more dangerous substances. An example in this sense is the substance called “spice” that ravaged Great Britain in the beginning of the 2000s. “Spice” is a substance designed to imitate cannabis. This substance has been tested for human use and was relatively safe in-the-first-place. Gradually after the producers had to modify the substance in order to sneak past the new bans that the authorities introduced at some point or another, “spice” became steadily more dangerous and more deadly.
When the authorities in Great Britain finally introduced the “psychoactive substances act”, it was prohibited to produce all the psychoactive substances except cigarettes, alcohol and coffee. Only three months after the ban was introduced, 31 shops have closed down. These were shops where the employees had experience with the substances they sold and could give advice for a safe shopping, according to David Knutt.
When the shops that earlier were allowed to sell “spice” had to close down, the illegal market began immediately to flourish. The substances that were sold illegally have developed now to be more powerful and more deadly than they originally were.
The faith we have on authorities’ competence to reach a wishful result is, and has always been, deadly.
5. Young adults end up unnecessary on the wrong path.
If you have smoked hashish, you can risk losing your driver’s license, even if you have never driven under the influence. It is an absurd penalty that sabotages people who have not posed a danger in traffic. We should rather wish to facilitate that people who have walked on the wrong path, and that can potentially have a problem with drugs, receive proper conditions to succeed and to do well. To lose the driver’s license is a handicap that can, for example, involve that those concerned have problems with getting to work.
Punishment is meant as burdensome by design, so to prosecute drug users who often face enough problems from before, is unfortunate. Drug users must be seen as patients, not criminals. If we had stopped considering drug users as criminals, we could have reduced the stigma of the group, and lowered their threshold for seeking help. Kenneth Arctander, an activist in the field, who held a conference for FPU (Fremskrittspartiets Ungdom, or The Progress Party’s Youth) that I attended in 2021, said that “to stigmatise a group long enough, it allows the society to treat them differently”.
VG (Verdens Gang, or The Way of The World, a popular newspaper from Norway) revealed last year that Borgund VGS, a high school in the Ålesund county, has illegally tested their pupils for over 15 years. One of them told VG that she experienced one of her school years at this high school as one of the worst years in her life. She was taken out of class, and was refused to take part in practice, and then the school coerced her to take a urine sample. Afterwards, the anonymous student experienced the spread of rumours and gossip amongst fellow students. This became so uncomfortable for her that she gradually dropped out of school.
6. Medicine use.
Cannabis contains the substances “CBD” and “THC”, both of which have a several proven medical effects. Nowadays somebody can get medical license for legal cannabis use in Australia, Canada, Germany, USA, Argentina, Israel, Belgium, and Poland, just to name a few.
Cannabis and substances in cannabis, are used in these countries for treating people who suffer from HIV/AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, inflammation, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, dementia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, autism, fibromyalgia and Tourette syndrome. Several medical uses for cannabis exist, but these are the most common diseases which qualify a patient to medicinal use.
In Norway, cannabis is strictly prohibited. Only specialists at Norwegian hospitals have been able to ask for approval of exemption for actual patients, after the Norwegian Medicines Agency (Statens legemiddelverk) came in 2016 with a guide on the use of medical cannabis. Since then, 30 patients from Norway have received recepy for medicinal cannabis. This is very stupid.
By legalising cannabis, it would be easier for sick people to get ahold of cannabis related products that they wish for. They have also the liberty to experience with cannabis in relation to diseases where there is little to known fact if cannabis has a positive effect, the reason being missing or insufficient research.
7. Smoking is a victimless crime.
To smoke hashish in itself falls under the category “victimless criminality”. When you smoke hashish, it is not something you do on the expense of other people. Remember that other people’s liberty to smoke cannabis does not mean that you must begin to smoke. The ones that do not wish to smoke cannabis can still refrain from doing it, even after the ban is lifted.
To drive in an intoxicated state is today, and it will definitely continue to be, strictly forbidden.
8. The war on drugs is too grotesque.
Many of the drug substances Norwegians use are being produced in other countries. Latin America, and especially Mexico, are known for their cartels which stay back to the production of enormous amounts of drugs.
These cartels operate with cruel tactics in order to spread fear among competitors, politicians, the police and journalists so they can protect their own illegal business. They cut people’s heads off with chainsaws, they cook and burn people alive, they cut the face off of people’s heads, they play football with severed heads, and a lot more.
Mexico’s previous president Felipe Calderon launched his own war against drugs in 2006, and after 10 years this offensive has led to 100.000 deaths and 30.000 missing.
Rodrigo Duterte, who today is president in The Philippines, promised before the elections that he will not go kill 100.000 people in his own war against drugs in the country. In 2019, the police of the country claimed that they have so far killed 29.000 people in relation to their war against drugs.
9. Let the police and the correctional facilities prioritize real crimes.
It is a poor use of police’s time and resources to have to criminally prosecute people who sell or use cannabis. If the police stop using their time in order to deal with cannabis related criminality, they can in a larger degree focus on violent criminals, thieves, and animal abusers, just to name a few. Our prisons should not be filled with smokers or entrepreneurs.
On the eve of last year, VG also published a case about Hege Grostad, a cultural debater that has publicly engaged in a number of cases. In the implementation for forced testing from the municipality informs that “the police have seen her describing drug use in social media since 2014 until today.” These sorts of things belong only in George Orwell’s books. This is clearly a huge violation of freedom of expression. Even our most important constitutional right is being completely overrun, only to maintain an outlet for our maniacal need to control suspected drug users.
10. Your body, your choice.
You may be thinking now that these nine arguments that I have presented so far are more than convincing enough to justify the full legalization of hashish. But the truth is that you do not need any of these arguments in order to protect the legalization of hashish. The tenth argument is the only one that you need. And the tenth argument is that it should definitely be you who decides on your body and your life.
Nobody should invite themselves in your own room in order to tell you that you cannot smoke a plant. The sympathy for the prohibition of cannabis feeds on a rude, brash, arrogant and collectivist unculture that is very widespread in Norway.
The debate around the legalization of cannabis has been won a long time ago by those that fight for legalization. We only need changes in attitude before the legalization becomes realistic.
TRANSLATORS NOTE 1: The authors assume responsibility for the correctness of the information and for the opinions expressed in the articles submitted for publication.
TRANSLATORS NOTE 2: The authors assume responsibility for the way they use bibliography and citations. (This article came with no bibliography of other future bibliographical references).