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UK: Legalise cannabis to attract billions in tax and tourism, Tories say

Jonathan Walker

The Express

Saturday 30 Jul 2022

LEGALISING cannabis could attract millions of additional tourists and raise billions in tax revenues, according to Conservative politicians.

Research shows that younger people want to take holidays in countries where the drug is legal according to a new study which suggests cannabis farms could become tourist attractions similar to Scottish Highland whisky distilleries, which receive 2.2 million visitors each year. The proposals come from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cannabidiol Products, chaired by Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, a former Justice Minister, and Tory peer Baroness Manzoor, former Legal Services Ombudsman for England and Wales.

They say that cannabis has already provided a huge boost to hotels and restaurants in Colorado, where it has been legal since 2012. Their report says: “The US cannabis tourism market has developed rapidly and half of millennials now state that access to regulated cannabis market is important in their choice of travel destination.”

According to the politicians, the UK could sell cannabis and related products worth £32 billion each year by becoming a “worldwide hub”, raising £5.5 billion in tax revenue each year and creating 594,000 jobs.

Potential products include balms used to treat arthritis, insulation materials produced from hemp and animal feed, but the biggest moneyspinner would be cannabis sold for recreational use. It’s already possible to grow cannabis plants in the UK with a Home Office licence, but the only strains allowed are those with a low concentration of THC, the mood-altering substance contained in the plant.

Turnover in the global hemp and cannabis industry will reach an estimated £69 billion by 2026, and the politicians say the UK could become a global leader just as it has with the whisky trade, which is worth £66 billion.

Mr Blunt also said allowing some regulated cannabis products to be sold openly in the UK would cut crime. He said: “This broad industry analysis highlights significant potential opportunities, as well as some necessary early wins from intelligently improved regulation.

“Bigger opportunities could follow including destroying a vast illicit market, protecting children by reducing psychosis and crime.

"There is an economic incentive – potentially £5.5bn in annual tax revenue - to build a well-regulated sector that turns the UK into one of a few lucrative worldwide hubs.”

Baroness Manzoor said: “This plan demonstrates clearly that an impressive opportunity is realisable in the near term. Vast medical, wellness, and economic benefits are available by forward-looking regulation and energetic political and administrative leadership.”

Their report points out that other countries are already in the process of legalising cannabis, and says the UK should act fast to become a world leader in the new market.




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