Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised

A poll recently commissioned by Lib Dems for Drug Policy Reform and conducted by Vision Critical shows that 70 per cent of people are in favour of cannabis being legalised.

A poll recently commissioned by Lib Dems for Drug Policy Reform and conducted by Vision Critical shows that 70 per cent of people are in favour of cannabis being legalised. It also shows that more people are in favour of legalising amphetamines (speed), magic mushrooms and mephedrone (the drug recently banned by the government) than are in favour of keeping them prohibited.

For ecstasy there is still a small majority in favour of prohibition (54%) but 39% are in favour of legalisation in some form. Even heroin and cocaine have around a third of people who want to see them legalised. What these findings show is not just that over two thirds of people think that cannabis should be legal, it is that even across other drugs there is not a huge consensus in favour of prohibition either.

At the very least this could be interpreted as there being scope for a proper debate about the future of drugs policy that includes all options and that such an approach would not be as “politically toxic” as many politicians seem to fear. This poll should go some way towards reassuring them that this is not the case.

The poll took a slightly different approach to previous ones in this field. It outlines three scenarios, “Light regulation”, “Strict government control and regulation” and “Prohibition”. It then detailed what each of those categories mean and asked people to say which category they thought a number of currently legal and prohibited drugs should go into.

Some of the demographic breakdown information from the results is interesting too. For example, there is no significant difference between the three different age ranges (18-34, 35-54, 55+) across the different drugs and categories people want to see. There is also little difference between supporters of the main parties; perhaps the results of this poll could be interpreted as giving “permission” for politicians to have that full and open debate.

You can read more information including a more detailed breakdown of the poll methodology and results here. You can also view an interview I conducted back in January with Professor David Nutt, former head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which touched upon some of the issues raised by this poll here.

28 Responses to “Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised”

  1. NewLeftProject

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  2. Ben Farress

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  3. GuyAitchison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  4. Duncan Wiles

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised //bit.ly/djbW9A

  5. Chris Williams

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  6. Hitchin England

    Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A via @leftfootfwd

  7. Joshua Wishon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  8. Mark Thompson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised //bit.ly/djbW9A

  9. Al Jahom

    RT @MarkReckons: RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised //bit.ly/djbW9A

  10. Jane Watkinson

    RT @MarkReckons: RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised //bit.ly/djbW9A

  11. Jasper Sharpe

    RT @MarkReckons: RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised //bit.ly/djbW9A

  12. Colin Ross

    RT @chrisw100 RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  13. winston k moss

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  14. Anon E Mouse

    90% of the UK population believe Capital Punishment – hanging – should be brought back but that isn’t going to happen either…

  15. Mr. Sensible

    I am totally opposed to doing that.

    These drugs are very harmful, and from what I can gather for not much gain.

    And as for Professer Nutt, the then Home Secretary was entirely correct to get rid of him; I brand his comparison between 1 drug and riding a horse as unhelpful.

    This seems to me a bit of a ‘can’t beat them? join them!’ approach, and I am totally opposed to it.

  16. Liz McShane

    Anon

    ….”90% of the UK population believe Capital Punishment…”

    What’s your source for this statistic?

  17. Mark Thompson

    Mr Sensible – Some of these drugs can indeed be very harmful (as can alcohol and tobacco and all sorts of other things of course). This is why we need to look again at whether they could be legalised and regulated. At the moment the markets are left entirely open to criminal gangs who cut drugs with all sorts of dreadful substances that make taking them even more dangerous and of course the purity and strength of what people are taking is highly variable too sometimes leading to overdoses. This sort of harm would be greatly reduced under a legal framework.

    Why is comparing the harm caused by a drug and the harm caused by a risky sport unhelpful? What is it about drugs that makes people think they are in a special category all of their own that means they their use cannot be compared with anything else? How are we ever going to be able to ascertain the harm they can cause and how best to mitigate this if we refuse to engage in even a basic debate about relative harms?

    As for your final comment. Who excatly are we supposed to be “beating”? Millions of people in the UK take drugs regularly most of whom manage this with their lives perfectly well and are otherwise completely law abiding. Are you suggesting we should be tackling all of them? The current legal regime does not work and it is time for fresh thinking.

    We can only make progress in reducing the harm and crime that drugs cause by recognising the way we have been trying to do this for the last 40 years has fundamentally failed.

  18. Destiny

    Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be …: A poll recently commissioned by Lib Dems for Drug… //bit.ly/bEWP4c

  19. Martin Day

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  20. Denny

    RT @GuyAitchison RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  21. Mr. Sensible

    Mark, 1 of the things I think we have to take in to account here is health benefits.

    Sports can help to keep you fit ETC, and I believe some alcohol is good for your heart or something, though I have yet to try that!

    Some people have suggested giving them on the NHS. That is not a good idea given how we’re told we’re going to have to find savings in it ETC. A better idea is to try and get people off it.

    I think we may have to agree to disagree here.

  22. Bob

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  23. Andrew Hillman

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised: //bit.ly/djbW9A

  24. Andrew Roche

    Poll shows 70% of people in the UK think cannabis should be legalised //ff.im/-nCPA4

  25. Mark Thompson

    Mr Sensible – Your criteria seems to be that things should be permitted if there are some health benefits. And if there are not then people should be subject to prosecution and ultimately prison for doing them.

    Firstly, that is a pretty illiberal approach by any stretch. The idea that we should imprison people for doing things that are perhaps not very good for them is very hard to reconcile with a free society.

    Secondly, by your measure lots of things that are currently legal should be made illegal with penalty of imprisonment as the ultimate sanction. I would suggest if we take your idea to its logical conclusion then all of the following should be banned as they are things people enjoy that do not have any real health benefits and in some cases have a significant risk of adverse health consequences: Cigarettes, Sky diving, Quad biking, Deep fried Mars bars, sledging and loud music.

    I am also dubious about your justification for keeping alcohol legal within the “Mr Sensible” framework. There are some studies show small amounts of alcohol can be good in some ways but plenty of other studies that show alcohol overall is damaging for health. I would suggest by your scheme that to be consistent and err on the side of what you perceive to be caution (like you are doing with all currently illegal drugs) that it should be banned too.

    Your comment about it being “better” to get people off drugs. Well firstly there is lots of evidence to show that people will only abstain from any drugs they might be addicted to when they are ready. It is very counter-productive to try and force them to go clean. Also, in 1971 when the current drugs laws cam into force there were at most a few thousand heroin addicts in the UK. There are now over 200,000 of them. So if what you want it to get people off drugs then by that measure the current legal regime has utterly failed. Therefore you should surely agree that the time has come to try something else?

    Have a look at what has happened in Portugal since 2001 when all drugs there were decriminalised. Use across all categories has fallen and the number of people seeking help for their problems with drugs has rocketed. They’re not afraid of being arrested any more for doing so you see.

  26. Jonny

    I voted for lib dems purely on this issue. When Cameron became leader of the Cons, he said he supported legislation. Why isn’t this being pushed, or even talked about? Legalise recreational drugs, and put addictive “hard” drugs on prescription. The benefits to society would be massive.

  27. uglyfatbloke

    But 100% of political parties think that pot-smokers (including those with medical needs) should be persecuted in line with Daily Mail policy. How nice.

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