Medical Marijuana Farms: A Budding Industry | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Medical Marijuana Farms: A Budding Industry

The first cannabis farm in the UK is a great first step, argues Jonathan Korn

In the heart of Wiltshire, history is being made. The first medicinal cannabis farm looks set to open, and about time too.

Ever since the tragic case of 12-year old Billy Caldwell, who was denied cannabis oil which helped prevent life-threatening seizures, the UK government has faced enormous pressure to act. And Home Secretary Sajid Javid eventually did so, announcing legislation which permits the prescription of medicinal cannabis to patients.

Fast forward to today, and law is set to become reality. 7.5 acres of land, a £10 million facility, and compensation for any farmers whose land is used. Oh, and the cannabis being grown will not contain THC, the compound which makes people high. Which means any risk of vulnerable patients losing control of their faculties is unfounded.

Which means any risk of vulnerable patients losing control of their faculties is unfounded

All in all, this is pretty good. Allowing the production of a drug which helps save people’s lives seems a humanitarian imperative. But could we go even further?

The answer is yes. Social reform has slipped down the political agenda as Brexit consumes the resources and political capital of the British Government. And understandably so. Stockpiling medicines is slightly more important than ensuring hippy teenagers are entitled to smoke a few joints. However, this doesn’t mean the debate over drug legalisation is unimportant. On the contrary, it cuts to the heart of who we are, and the values we hold dear.

Most moral issues fit into the ‘Paternalism vs libertarianism’ bracket. Meaning one side thinks individuals should be free to make their own choices (libertarians), and the other feels that governments have a moral responsibility to look after citizens, and sometimes to protect them from their worst impulses. Of course, no sensible people subscribe to either extreme. Even the staunchest defender of liberty would not support the legalisation of cocaine, or the abolition of laws compelling the wearing of seatbelts. Likewise, the most ardent paternalist would be hard-pressed not to fall into the iron grip of totalitarianism if they sought to limit individual liberty too much. The debate is a complex one. However, on the issue of marijuana legalisation, I think the time has come for change.

On the issue of marijuana legalisation, I think the time has come for change

Every day, I feel the benefits of living in a free country. A country where I can vote for whoever I like, say whatever I like, even write whatever I like. A country where the instinct is towards liberty. Where citizens and legislators look for an excuse to allow, not to ban. Where we trust each individual to know what is in their interests better than a remote Parliamentarian they have never met. A country is which the supreme virtue is liberty, not restriction. The countries around the world whose first instinct is to restrict are not countries any of us would wish to live in. Just look at the nations which restrict a woman’s right to choose, or the right of an LGBTQ citizen to marry. Broadly, we should stand with societies in which the instinct is to permit, not to ban.

So it is with drug legalisation. Do we really not trust individuals to decide how to live their lives? Drug-takers know exactly what the risks of taking drugs are, yet choose to do so anyway, having weighed up the benefits against the costs. My life is not affected by others electing to smoke. So, what right do I have to tell them they cannot do so, simply because I find it distasteful?

Do we really not trust individuals to decide how to live their lives?

There are plenty of other reasons why the time has come for legalisation. Millions extra could be raised for the Exchequer if cannabis was legalised and taxed. The power dealers have over vulnerable people would be significantly reduced if cannabis were made readily available. Legalisation means regulation, which in turn would allow the state to ensure that the cannabis sold is safe for consumption, a safeguard impossible in a black-market system.

I have never taken drugs. To be clear, this article is not the result of a summer trip to Amsterdam. Rather, it is a call for the defenders of liberty to find their voices again. It’s time to legalise cannabis.

Comment and sports writer. Tottenham fan. Loves a healthy bit of nuance.


15th February 2019 at 7:00 am

Last Updated

15th February 2019 at 11:03 am

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