Do you know how safe cannabis is?

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What do British people know about cannabis? A recent poll showed that 70 per cent of people believe that cannabis is equally as harmful, if not more so, than alcohol. In actual fact, cannabis is much safer, but only 18 per cent of people polled by CISTA said they believed that to be the case.

  

The above graph, published by the Economist and based on the study "Drug harms in the UK: a multi-criteria decision analysis" shows us that alcohol use is much more likely than cannabis to be a factor when others are harmed. Alcohol is also significantly more likely to be a factor when people cause harm to themselves.

And yet cannabis use is disproportionately maligned in the media. A 2010 report published by the UK Drug Policy Commission found that 42.7% of all stories involving  cannabis linked it to crime. Meanwhile reports pointing out positive consequences arising from cannabis, or even consequences "less harmful than thought", comprised five per cent or less of total coverage.

Legalisation of cannabis, however, has already had a hugely positive impact on societies.

In Denver, Colorado, where cannabis was legalised just over a year ago, there has has been a 15% reduction in crime. Meanwhile road accidents in the first year of legalised cannabis were at some of their lowest levels in recent history. Some academics have claimed that cannabis legalisation correlates with an 8-11% decrease in fatalities from motoring accidents.

This shows that legalisation of cannabis can in fact have an immediate beneficial effect.

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