The idea of cars, street corners and the back doors of institutions being used as a place for a pharmaceutical business deal has always been frowned upon. But what if the buying and use of substances such as cannabis were made legal in order to help the economy? A debate that has been tossed around for many years, mainly in the US of ‘should cannabis be legalised?’, this debate has crossed the pond and has entered the UK. Most people’s knowledge of the drug is that maybe a family member or friend did it once or twice when they were younger, or had a weekend trip with friends to Amsterdamn? 

The other stereotypical view associated with this drug is the lazy and unemployed. While both of these situations and viewpoints occur for a reason, this is only what one is observing of the tip of a very big iceberg.


It’s clear to say that the British economy has faced a pretty awful year, the hit of COVID-19 spiralling the economy downwards due to almost £395b being put towards the pandemic and other economic consequences caused by Brexit, has left the country a little deflated. Nevertheless, the fraction of those in the UK that are a part of the informal economy have been keeping their income afloat are cannabis farmers. There are many farmers in the UK, you would think to find them in Somerset perhaps, not the south London borough of Croyon. Over a three-year period from 2013 to 2016, 61 cannabis farms were found in Croydon, followed closely by Barking and Dagenham, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Lewisham. You might be thinking, how could this substance help the economy when it’s being grown in boroughs where the people within them are not being helped. Tower Hamlets has the highest poverty rate in London bordering on 40%, yet is one of the most probable places to find marajuana. 


The people that partake in this side of the informal economy do so because they must, to earn an income. When one is in poverty or nearing the poverty line, job descriptions don’t necessarily matter anymore, and neither does the price. Instead of having to rely on an illegal source for your money, distributing something classed as ‘illegal’ when the likes of alcohol and tobacco are legal, sold for a higher price and have the same, if not worse, health consequences and dangers.

Unlike tobacco and alcohol, cannabis has been proven to have health benefits.

Pain, mental health issues and cancer-related symptoms (vomiting, pain and nausea) are all factors in which marajuana is proven to help and relieve the issue. 

Of course, there are pain killers and other medications for mental health and both come with side effects, as does marajuana. However, the legalisation of this could prove to help suffering boroughs such as Tower Hamlets and Newham that have poverty rates of just under 40%. 


By legalising and regulating the use of cannabis, the many distributors could work legally, gaining a better income for themselves. Due to many of the people who work in this faction being working class, it would then improve their economic situation and that of a borough. From another perspective, if legal distribution was granted and more legitimate money could be earned from this, there is a high chance that the distribution of other substances that are more harmful and addictive could decrease as not as much money could be made from that. 


Overall, the legalisation of one plant could help our capitals poverty and other cities alike, while also reducing the crime, pain and death that results from other substances.

Mia Jones McGrath

Southgate School