High societies

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Jake Shepherd

April 20, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation looks at international experiences of cannabis liberalisation.

Across the world, governments’ approaches to cannabis are changing. In the UK, the substance continues to be largely prohibited, even as a significant portion of the public (41%) are in favour of liberalising. In this new report Jake Shepherd looks at seven jurisdictions across the world that have either legalised or decriminalised cannabis in the last decade – Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Canada, and the US states of Colorado and Oregon – to assess of their policy changes impact across health, crime, and economic outcomes. When looking at these countries, it seems the UK is lagging behind other countries on its cannabis policy – and any of those liberalising regimes could work in the UK and bring benefits. Of particular interest is Uruguay, a country with a ‘health over profit’ model that tightly controls the production and sale of cannabis – it’s cautious approach has been known for following public health best practice.