Legalising cannabis now could help the UK economy recover from COVID19.

Liz Filmer
21 Jul 2021

The COVID 19 pandemic has changed the way we all live; it has also changed the economy. Considering that the UK government only finished paying the USA back for World War 2 in 2006, it is easy to see how the national debt incurred during the last 18 months could stay with us for decades to come. 

So where has all this debt has come from and what is the answer? Could legalising cannabis now go some way to filling the economic black hole that Coronavirus has left the UK in?

The furlough scheme has cost £58 bn. The grant for the self-employed £19.7 bn and "Eat Out to Help Out cost £800mln. Additionally, lockdown measures had a significant impact on the tax take. HMRC saw a drop of 7.8% or £49bn on the 2019-2020 tax year, fuel duty dropped 24%, and the VAT take dropped 22%.

With the vaccine rollout declared a success and the lifting of restrictions on "Freedom day" July 19th, it looks like the economy will begin to recover. Still, the deficit is so significant that it will take something massive to claw back the money used to fund this unprecedented financial bailout.

What is the answer, then? Well, there is one tax figure which bucked the trend during the pandemic, alcohol duty. People were drinking more alcohol at home. All pubs and restaurants were closed, resulting in alcohol duty shooting up to 1.2bn. A figure that more than offset the loss in tax experienced from the social drinking that would usually be going on in pubs and clubs.

Now take this idea and apply it to cannabis. Imagine that this type of revenue collection was used in a legalised UK cannabis industry. Legalisation now would provide a notable boost to an economy that is otherwise strapped for cash, potentially bringing in billions of pounds.

Would the current government consider this move, however? Well, the answer disappointingly is probably not yet. All the talk at present is geared toward adjusting capital gains tax rates and pension relief. Two policies that will not be very popular. 

It is difficult to understand why it isn't being considered a serious proposal. When you compare this to a policy like legalising and taxing cannabis, that would be very lucrative and arguably very popular. Legalising at this stage would also give a massive boost in popularity to the ruling Conservative party, who in large are not supported by the crucial younger demographic of UK voters.

To ignore the possibility of creating a popular tax seems madness; however, the issue lies with how cannabis is still viewed within the corridors of power. The present government may appear socialist in terms of the economy. However, culturally they are still very conservative in their opinions.

Unfortunately, I feel that we still have a long way to go before we have a ruling party who are pragmatic and open-minded enough to take the chance and push the old stereotypes aside and bring the UK in line with some of the other countries leading the way in benefitting from a successful, thriving legal cannabis industry.

Liz Filmer