Almost half of all adults in the UK want some form of recreational cannabis legalization, signaling a “clear and growing appetite” for the nation to enact significant drug policy reforms.
A new survey by YouGov found that 48 percent of British voters support recreational, or adult-use, cannabis legalization. Only 24 percent of surveyed adults oppose legalization. Last year, the same poll reported that just 43 percent of Brits supported legalization.
Medical cannabis, unsurprisingly, had even more support. According to the survey, 77 percent of Brits think legalizing medicinal weed is a good thing, and around the same percentage said they’d be interested in trying cannabis products to alleviate symptoms from their ailments.
The YouGov poll, commissioned by the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), discovered that UK voters weren’t only loosening up on cannabis laws, but were taking a more liberal approach to all drug policies. Nearly 80 percent of all respondents said they were not pleased with the UK government’s handling of illicit drugs, and 70 percent thought prohibitionist policies have failed overall.
“This survey shows the government and politicians are significantly behind the public’s thinking,” Rob Wilson, the chief executive of the CDPRG and a former Tory politician, told The Independent. “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.”
Late last year, the UK government legalized medical cannabis. However, only patients with incredibly debilitating disorders like epilepsy or cancer qualify for medical cannabis. UK doctors have been hesitant to prescribe the plant without clearer regulations to protect their practices.
The sea change toward legalization continues despite doctors’ reluctance. Last month, the Church of England announced it would devote part of its $16 billion investment portfolio toward researching medical cannabis. And in April, UK police said they’d stop enforcing pot laws against non-violent, “low-level” users.
“We simply cannot arrest our way out of drug problems,” former Durham Police chief constable Mike Barton said to The Independent. “Many of us in law enforcement have long been calling for a public-health approach to drugs.
“These [poll] figures show the British public agree criminalization isn’t the solution to drug problems,” he continued. “A public health approach could reduce harms for users, as well as freeing up police resources to tackle serious crime.”
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