A new survey carried out by YouGov in the UK found that twice as many British adults support cannabis legalization than those opposing it, and that number is rising annually.
The war on drugs over the past few decades has been about as successful in the UK as it has in the US. Law enforcement and other officials find themselves stretched to the maximum when it comes to enforcing out-of-date anti-cannabis policies. However, the tide of public opinion is changing in Britain, and that can’t be ignored for long by the ‘powers that be.’
According to the survey, 48% of UK voters favor legalizing cannabis fully, representing a five-point increase over the last year. At the same time, only 24 percent of UK adults are against the move. 77% of those surveyed said they believed there should be a robust medical provision for cannabis in the UK.
The poll, commissioned by the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), found that the British public has grown tired of cannabis prohibition and have a “clear and growing appetite” for a new approach, according to the report.
Former Tory minister, Rob Wilson said about the survey, according to a report in the Independent, “This survey shows the government and politicians are significantly behind the public’s thinking.” Wilson added, “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.”
The poll also turned up some other interesting findings. It found that around 25% of respondents felt patients who had been prescribed cannabis should be allowed to grow it. 22% said they felt anyone who wants to should be allowed to grow cannabis for personal use.
However, those most pro-cannabis legalization were, unsurprisingly, the younger generation, as well as among people living in London. As it happens, 56% of Londoners back full cannabis legalization in the UK and most of those aged 18-49 favored legalization and drug policy reform.
When asked whether respondents thought the government was struggling to deal with drug use in the UK, 79% said yes. Moreover, a staggering 7 out of 10 people said they believed the current war on drugs in the UK was a total failure. 53% felt drug abuse should be viewed as a health issue and not a criminal one.
Around 50% of respondents said they were pro-legalization and also pro-government regulated cannabis distribution. As MP Wilson pointed out in his interview, “Illegal drugs are doing terrible damage to families and communities throughout the country,” he said. “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 former chief constable of Durham Police, Mike Barton, a man with decades of experience in the war on drugs summed it up best when he said, “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.” Barton added, “These [poll] figures show the British public agree criminalization 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.”
That sentiment is echoed by many in the law enforcement community in the United Kingdom who are fed up to the high teeth of arresting people for smoking cannabis or possessing it. It remains to be seen which way the cannabis policy will go in the UK, although this survey and the presence of the CDPRG are a step in the right direction for human rights in the UK.