Conservative-funded survey finds half of British public now support legalising recreational cannabis

A Conservative-funded YouGov poll has found nearly half of British adults now support the legalisation of recreational cannabis.

The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), which commissioned the poll, surveyed 1,690 people on their views relating to the cannabis, finding “clear and growing appetite” for a more liberal approach to drug policy in the UK.

According to the survey, 48% of voters favour legalising recreational use of cannabis, while only 24% oppose the potential measure, indicating a clear surge in favour of ending the prohibition of cannabis in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, public support for medical cannabis is now at a all-time high: 77% of respondents believe it should be permitted, with only 4% of the public saying they oppose the UK’s new medical cannabis laws.

The survey also found strong evidence to suggest that the vast majority (76%) of Britons would use medical cannabis if they were suffering from a medical condition where cannabis-based medications have been proven to benefit.

Only 30% of the public support the British Government’s current policy on cannabis, while 55% favour adopting “softer” government policies (27% support full legalisation, 28% support decriminalisation).

This survey shows the government and politicians are significantly behind the public’s thinking.
– Rob Wilson, CDPRG’s Chief Executive

The public’s change in opinion on cannabis may have been influenced by the Government’s failure to control the distribution of cannabis by drugs, as 79% said they believed the government was “struggling” to cope with drugs. The majority (7/10 respondents) believe that prohibition has failed to reduce harm.

Half (50%) of respondents said they believed that regulating the sale of cannabis would provide more protection to young an vulnerable people, while only 23% said that regulating cannabis would cause “more harm” to society.

Discussing the results of the survey, Rob Wilson, CDPRG’s Chief Executive and a former Tory minister, said:

“This survey shows the government and politicians are significantly behind the public’s thinking.

“It illustrates the widening gulf between the stubborn, decades-old policies of blanket prohibition and the developing attitude of millions of voters willing to apply new approaches focused on improving harm reduction and healthcare outcomes.

“Illegal drugs are doing terrible damage to families and communities throughout the country. Thousands of people are dying, many hundreds of thousands of young people are taking drugs which they neither understand nor know what they contain. At the same time violent criminal gangs are making massive financial gains while preying on the weak and vulnerable.

“The findings of this survey demonstrate the urgent need for policymakers and government to start to rethink policy as part of an open, fully informed and evidence-based debate on the future of drugs policy.”

Mike Barton, the former chief constable of Durham Police, added:

“We simply cannot arrest our way out of drug problems. Many of us in law enforcement have long been calling for a public health approach to drugs.

“These [poll] figures show the British public agree criminalisation isn’t the solution to drug problems. A public health approach could reduce harms for users as well as freeing up police resources to tackle serious crime.”

With the twice as many Britons now supporting legalising cannabis for recreational use than those who oppose it, is it time the British Government represented those it is represents and finally legalise and regulate the sale of cannabis in the UK?

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