ONE of my favourite JK Rowling quotes has the professorial head of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, addressing his young pupil; “it is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”. We are our choices.

The 48th generation since Scotland was born has just begun and in 25 years hence it will pass the baton to 49. At that moment the world will have changed beyond recognition.

Much of that world will be determined by forces way beyond our shores; climate change, globalisation, technological transformation are all issues that Scotland wants to have an impact on but must co-operate as a world citizen to effect in any real and fundamental way. To this I would add global organised crime.

While the scale of the change, the world and the time frame of a quarter century can feel paralysing at times for our thinking, we have to begin by beginning and doing. Choices become us.

We have not yet begun to debate the scale of the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Change is difficult, and in this country as in most, the most powerful policy force is what we did yesterday.

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Reform and change can be politically challenging because the beneficiaries are still to be determined and mostly live in the future. In contrast the resource we committed yesterday has the powerful voice of its existing beneficiaries voting now.

This places a premium on leaders that can think, act and build for the long term. A premium on those who can care for those most excluded and dispossessed and unlikely to vote and help them have their voice heard. Navigating this, co-operating with others and choosing who we wish to become is the challenge and opportunity of being a grown-up country.

One of the biggest growth industries in the era of globalisation is organised crime. Its tentacles and tortures claim hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Its activity is not taxed but is costing billions for the taxpayer to mop up the consequences of its action. One of its largest revenue sources is, of course, drugs which are sold without quality control or regulation in every community in this land and most lands. Follow the money back to source and it is funding weapons, murder, terrorism, trafficking; human misery on a global scale.

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Meanwhile the criminal justice system lacks the resource to cope at any level and the “war on drugs” is lost comprehensively. Many countries are acting now to begin the process of decriminalisation that allows them to deny the criminals this source of income, governments to tax it and regulation to kick in.

Cannabis is already legal or decriminalised in Canada, Uruguay, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Norway. Eight US states plus the District of Columbia also allow cannabis use recreationally, even though federal law doesn’t.

There are many arguments on either side of the debate. There is no doubt that cannabis is damaging especially for a young and under-developed brain. Its overuse and misuse are bad as with most substances in life.

But death by marijuana intoxication doesn’t figure in any official statistics around the world because it doesn’t happen to any great extent. The violence that is caused by its use results from the money flow and criminality.

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Getting this changed in the UK will be difficult. Getting it changed in Scotland may be more achievable in terms of political will. But we have the small practical matter of the Scotland Act and the reservation of the law to Westminster standing in the way of a diversity of choice within the UK. Unless the UK can be willing and able to be flexible.

As with migration policy it strikes me that uniformity is not a benefit. As in many other respects Scotland can join progressive European countries in leading a different way.

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The potential tax revenue in Scotland could top £100 million which could be immediately put to good use in tackling the causes and symptoms of exclusion and substance misuse or go straight back into health and education. This money currently funds a dark, real and virtual, web of criminality that is global and is lost to the mainstream economy and society.

The reality of that money flow strikes me as making this argument as near a policy no-brainer as such a major move could ever be.

I don’t for one minute diminish the risks from misuse. But that is happening anyway for the most vulnerable people and they are being exposed to a criminal chain they do not have to be. A friend flew into Edinburgh from Los Angeles where she likened the stores selling cannabis product to an Apple store, such was their pristineness and modernity. The tide of history is heading in one direction.

We need to get our policy head straight and back bold ideas that put us on the right side of global problems and their resolution.

Choosing to do nothing is easy. But in doing so we are complicit in failed policies that sustain the world-wide system that is destroying lives everywhere. Scotland acting now won’t change the world over night, of course not. But it could create the sustainable funding for a range of interventions that could meaningfully change lives for the better now.

It may take Westminster to pass Scotland-only legislation or it may take further devolution. But we could begin by testing the mind of Holyrood on the arguments that become plainer by the day. If it is working for Canada, Colorado and California it is likely to work well here.

Choices like this will inevitably be made. As we saw with this week’s Brexit farce it is far better to move purposefully to an inevitable conclusion. In this case we can lead a choice that can make real lives better at home and play our part cutting the supply of cash to global crime. A grown-up choice well worth making.