Survey reveals decision makers are "way behind" public opinion
The public has a fairly liberal attitude towards "soft drugs" and perceives cannabis as less harmful than tobacco or alcohol. Twice as many British adults now support the legalization of cannabis as they oppose, according to a survey revealing a "growing gap" between public opinion and drug legislation.
Investigation YouGov revealed that 48% of voters favored the legalization of recreational use, up five points from last year; only 24% opposed it.
Support for medical cannabis was even stronger, with 77% of respondents saying it should be allowed. A similar proportion of respondents said they would consider using cannabis treatments if there was strong evidence that it would benefit them.
One of the reasons the public is saying this is perhaps because they do not believe that cannabis is so harmful in the first place. A little more than six out of ten people (62%) think that the substance is harmful for people who take it regularly, a quarter (25%) calling it "very" harmful.
More than nine out of ten people (93%) think that tobacco is harmful and a majority (56%) consider it to be "very" harmful. Although alcohol is doing better (83% and 32% respectively), it is still considered more damaging than cannabis.
The Conservative Group on Drug Policy Reform (CDPRG), which commissioned the survey, said the results indicated "Growing appetite for a new approach to UK drug policy".
"This poll shows that government and politicians are way behind the public's thinking," he said. declared Rob Wilson, Group CEO and former Conservative Minister of Civil Society.
He added: "This illustrates the growing gap between decades-old generalized policies of prohibition and the growing attitude of millions of voters willing to apply new approaches to improving risk reduction, damage and results in health care. "
The results were obtained after the government legalized some cannabis-based drugs last November, giving medical specialists the power to prescribe.
In general, the public has a more nuanced attitude towards soft drugs. Therefore, adopting a more liberal stance may not receive the backlash that many politicians fear.
Despite this, virtually no prescriptions from the NHS (public health system) have been issued to date, leaving expensive private prescriptions well beyond the reach of most families.
Just under a quarter of the 1690 respondents surveyed believe that patients who have been prescribed by their cannabis doctor should be allowed to grow their own plants, with 22% believing that anyone should be allowed to self-grow.
Support for the legalization of cannabis was highest among young people and people living in London, where 56% supported change. 52% of participants aged 18 to 49 years in the country are in favor of recreational legalization.
69% of respondents said that the government was struggling to deal with the drug problem in the UK, with seven 10 participants saying that the current ban policy did not reduce damage.
53% felt that drug use should be considered a health problem and should be addressed through harm reduction strategies rather than prohibition, which more than three quarters said was not a deterrent effective.
The results of this survey demonstrate the urgent need for policymakers and the government to begin to rethink drug policy in an open, fully informed and evidence-based debate.
The CDPRG was launched last month by Wilson and Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who called for the legalization of cannabis within five years. The group was created to lobby for a "clear and comprehensive review of drug policy".
Mike Barton, the former chief of police in Durham, said, "We just can not get out of the drug problem. Many of us in the field of law enforcement have been calling for a long time a public health approach to drugs.
"These polls show that the British public recognizes that prohibition is not the solution to drug problems. A public health approach could reduce harm to users and free up police resources to fight serious crimes. "
Full results of the YouGov survey