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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Is public opinion swinging in favour of legalising recreational cannabis?

The Independent reports that a new poll indicates that the majority of the British public now back the legalisation of cannabis so that it would be sold in shops like alcohol and tobacco. They add that that a majority also support for decriminalisation, something that would free up police time and resources to deal with serious crime:

The exclusive BMG Research poll for The Independent comes days after cannabis oil was for the first time brought into the UK legally, to treat an epileptic boy.

But within hours of the landmark moment, a young girl was rushed into hospital and placed on life support while she awaited a licence to get the same oil.

More than 1,500 people were asked if they supported or opposed the proposal that “cannabis be legalised, so that it is sold legally within a government regulated market in the same way that alcohol and tobacco is”. Overall, 22 per cent strongly backed the move, while 29 per cent somewhat supported it, bringing total support to 51 per cent.

Some 19 per cent opposed the move strongly, and 16 per cent, somewhat, bringing the proportion of those against it to 35 per cent, while 14 per cent did not know.

The respondents were then asked: “To what extent would you support or oppose cannabis be decriminalised, so that it is still a controlled substance not available for sale on the market, but that it is not criminalised (i.e. no prosecution for possession)?”

Here support rose slightly, to 52 per cent overall – with 20 per cent strongly backing it and 32 per cent somewhat behind the idea.

Some 17 per cent somewhat opposed the move, while 16 per cent strongly opposed it – total opposition of 33 per cent – and 16 per cent did not know.

The Liberal Democrats have held this view for some time as have a number of senior politicians such as William Hague and some senior police officers who believe that regulation can reduce the strength of cannabis and allow police resources to be better utilised tackling harder, more harmful drugs.

The UK Government continue to resist this move and I suspect that there would need to be prolonged and stronger support for legalisation by the UK public before they change their mind. This poll though is a move in the right direction.
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