This paper builds on Release’s national research on the disproportionate policing of ethnic minority individuals and other disadvantaged groups, and evaluates regulatory frameworks emerging in North America and beyond. It outlines an evidence-based roadmap to prioritise and protect those most vulnerable to the harms of prohibition in legal recreational markets, while still ensuring the benefits of cannabis legalisation and regulation for all.

Whilst countries across the globe - from the US to Canada, Uruguay to Germany - acknowledge the failure and damage of cannabis prohibition, the UK is left faltering behind. However, with over half of Britons, and nearly two-thirds in the capital, having already signalled their support for the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use, the reality is that cannabis reform in the UK is inevitable. The question is not when, but how cannabis will be regulated in the UK.

Release present guiding principles in preparation for the eventual legal regulation of cannabis in the UK. These principles are designed to ensure that the same people who are locked up by punitive drug policies are not locked out of the legal market, and that cannabis reform is an opportunity to repair historic injustices caused by the war on drugs.