Cannabis legalisation could save UK at least £890 million per year

A new report by the TaxPayers’ Alliance details the enormous savings to British taxpayers by legalising cannabis.

The UK could save at least £891.72 million a year in reduced spending by police, prisons, courts and the NHS through pain relief treatments.


Key findings


The legalisation of cannabis could bring in savings of £132.6 million each year for the NHSfrom the decrease in the number of people prescribed pain medication. This includes:

  • £28.7 million each year from fewer people being treated for cannabis dependency.
  • £79.98 million each year from fewer people being prescribed anti-depressants.
  • £43.2 million a year from a decrease in the number of people taking sleeping tablets.
  • Approximately £21 million each year from a decrease in the number of people taking anti-anxiety medication.
  • Additional annual savings of tens of millions from a decrease in the number of people receiving treatment for alcohol abuse.

Criminal justice

  • The police spend on average 1,044,180 hours on enforcing the ban on cannabis each year.
  • There are currently 1,363 people in prison in England and Wales for cannabis related offences at the cost of £50 million a year.
  • It costs on average £449 to keep a person in police custody for 12 hours.

Cannabis legalisation would result in savings from police budgets of approximately
£200 million each year. This includes:

  • Savings on forensics by £12.2 million each year.
  • Savings to the prison system £50 million each year.
  • Savings of approximately £141 million each year for the probation service.
  • Savings of up to £60 million every year in legal aid costs.
  • Savings of approximately £21 million each year for the Crown Prosecution Service.
  • Savings of £6.24 million for the magistrates’ courts and £19.8 million for the Crown courts, giving a total saving of £26 million each year.

Ben Ramanauskas, policy analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, and author of the report, said:

“The current prohibition of cannabis costs hard-pressed families hundreds of millions every year. Aside from any moral arguments, it is clear that the current attempts to prevent cannabis use are an enormous burden on taxpayers that mean their money isn't spent on other priorities. Given the changes happening in the US, Canada, and elsewhere, it's an important time to consider whether heavy-handed policies are worthwhile, especially given the significant savings that could be made."



TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

James Price
Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]


Notes to editors

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at
  2. TaxPayers' Alliance advisory council
  3. The debate surrounding the legalisation of cannabis is by its very nature controversial, and there are political and moral reasons why those on either side of the debate hold their respective positions. The paper doesn’t engage with the moral or political arguments, but limits itself to fiscal implications of legalising cannabis in the UK.
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