United Kingdom lawmakers may consider a bill that would legalize cannabis for recreational use, after an online petition garnered the support of more than 150,000 people. The petition asks for lawmakers to allow the sale, production and recreational use of marijuana.
Petitions that exceed more than 100,000 signatures require a formal response from the government, and the House of Commons must consider putting the item to debate. Those which receive the required number of signatures are "almost always debated," according to the site. The petition, which was introduced last week, has amassed more than 158,000 signatures.
The creator of the petition, James Richard Owen, argues that the U.K. is wasting money by keeping marijuana criminalized. "Legalizing cannabis could bring in £900m in taxes every year, save £400m on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs," Owen wrote. He said marijuana is a "substance that is safer than alcohol and has many uses. It is believed to have been used by humans for over 4,000 years, being made illegal in the U.K. in 1925."
— Cannabis Law Reform (@CLEARUK) July 27, 2015
Marijuana is classified as a Class B drug in the U.K., which means the drug comes with prison sentences as long as 14 years for sale and production and five years for possession. The drug costs the country £500 million, or more than $555 million, in law enforcement costs each year and involves a black market worth £6 billion, approximately $6.7 billion, according to Politics.co.uk.
Cannabis legalization has won support in other countries in recent years. The U.S. has legalized marijuana entirely in four states -- Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington -- and in 2013, Uruguay passed legislation to legalize the drug countrywide.