British public attitudes to cannabis have shifted significantly in the last 20 years, a new survey reveals – as increasing number of U.K politicians back decriminalization.
Back in 1989, 60% of the British public believed using drugs’ like cannabis was morally wrong and that has now fallen to only 29%, according to new research from from Kings College London and Ipsos MORI, as reported by SkyNews.
However, hard drug usage is still frowned upon by the majority of the British public – more than two thirds take issue with it. This comes as the Liberal Democrat political party is campaigning to legalize cannabis ‘to break the grip of criminal gangs, and protect young people’, it says.
In the last week the U.K. Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee has said the government should investigate decriminalizing the possession of all illegal drugs in a bid to prevent the rising number of related deaths.
It found the U.K.’s position on drugs was ‘clearly failing’ and called for a ‘radical new approach’ in policy. However, the government said it had no plans to decriminalize drug possession, reports the BBC. There were 2,670 deaths directly attributed to drug misuse in England last year – an increase of 16% from 2017, according to the committee’s report.
The ruling party in the Scottish Assembly – the Scottish National Party (SNP) recently called for the decriminalization of the possession of drugs. A motion was passed unanimously at its recent annual conference and if enacted would allow for the possession and consumption of ‘controlled drugs’.
While the SNP is the ruling party in Scotland and has responsibility for matters such as health and education it has no remit over the country’s drug laws.
Scottish Referendum Boost
However, with Brexit boosting support for the SNP in Scotland, a country which voted to stay in the European Union, its leader Nicola Sturgeon has once more called for a second Independence Referendum.
This, despite initially accepting that the 10% point initial defeat in the 2014 vote meant there would be more independence ballots for a ‘generation’. The Scottish proposals would take away the status of criminal law from the acquisition, possession and consumption of all drugs.
However, it would still be it still illegal to possess, acquire or in certain cases import drugs. In such cases administrative sanctions can be applied such as a fine. In The Mirror newspaper respected British commentator Dr Miriam Stoppard called on the U.K. to follow the Portuguese model where dugs aren’t legal in but drug users aren’t treated as criminals.
In 2001, possessing up to 10 days’ supply of any drugs, including heroin , became a civil rather than a criminal offence. Today nobody goes to jail for using drugs. In the late 1990s half the people in prisons were drug offenders. Now it’s down to a quarter.
She highlighted how the number of deaths caused by drug overdose has decreased – by 2015 there were only 5.8 deaths per million people, compared with 20.3 in the E.U. and 45 in the UK.
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