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Stars back charity’s bid to make cannabis legal
AN influential Oxfordshire charity is using some of the world’s most recognised figures to pressure governments into legalising cannabis.
The Beckley Foundation, based at Beckley Park hunting lodge outside Oxford, has said controlling street drugs would reduce the harm done to users and provide an enormous source of taxed income.
The charity, which includes former Government drug advisor David Nutt among its scientific researchers, has released the results of a three-year study.
Entitled Licensing and Regulation of the Cannabis Market in England and Wales: Towards a Cost-Benefit Analysis, it estimates that legalising cannabis would be worth £1.25bn to the UK.
A letter accompanying the report calling on parliaments to act has been signed by luminaries such as former US president Jimmy Carter, Sir Richard Branson, musicians Sting and Yoko Ono, and several heads of state, including Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
The Beckley Foundation was set up 15 years ago by aristocrat Lady Neidpath, Countess of Wemyss and March, also known as Amanda Feilding.
She commissioned the report, co-authored by Stephen Pudney, professor of economics at the University of Essex, which estimates that reduced police, court and prison costs could save £300m.
It calculates that taxing cannabis would bring in up to £768m, and would save £41m in healthcare costs.
Lady Neidpath, 70, told the Oxford Mail: “We have faced endless and considerable challenges in even getting the report this far.
“This is the first time a scientific and policy research into the benefits of legalising and controlling cannabis has been commissioned.
“Leaders and presidents are starting to realise that it is a huge issue, and that there is also a huge market to be had, as well as the impact of de-criminalising many.
“It would stop young people being given criminal records which would in turn help them later in life, and there are considerable health benefits to controlling the drug.”
She added that the research found today’s cannabis was more harmful than strains of previous years.
Addressing governments across the globe, the letter says: “Illicit drugs are now the third most valuable industry in the world, after food and oil, estimated to be worth over $350 billion a year, all in the control of criminals.
“Fifty years after the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was launched, the global war on drugs has failed, and has had many unintended and devastating consequences.
“As production, demand and use of drugs cannot be eradicated, new ways must be found to minimise harm, and new policies, based on scientific evidence, must be explored.”
Cannabis has been linked with research into easing the pain of multiple sclerosis.
Chairman of Oxford and District Multiple Sclerosis Society branch John Chipperfield said: “Cannabis has been shown to have had some benefit for sufferers, but we certainly wouldn’t advocate it for everybody.
“If it could be proven to be beneficial we would want to make sure it wasn’t a free-for-all and was properly regulated by medical professionals.”
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