UK & World News

  • 19 February 2013, 8:27

Half Of Britons Support Softer Cannabis Laws

The majority of Britons would support a softer stance on cannabis laws, an independent think-tank has said.

More than half the public support legalising the production and supply of cannabis or decriminalising its possession, according to a survey ordered by the Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

Only one in seven Britons support heavier penalties and more money being spent on enforcement for cannabis offences, the campaign group found.

Some 67% of people support an in-depth review of policy options for controlling all drugs.

Transform head of external affairs Danny Kushlick said: "These results show just how far ahead of politicians the public are.

"While Labour and Conservative politicians shy away from the debate on drugs, around half of their supporters want to see legal regulation of cannabis production and supply or decriminalisation of cannabis possession."

Pressure on the Government to review its drugs policy has stepped up in recent weeks amid calls by various MPs to decriminalise the possession and use of all illegal drugs.

But Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected the calls on the grounds that the Government's approach is working.

Commenting on the poll, Lucy Dawe of the charity Cannabis Skunk Sense said that cannabis should remain illegal.

"Cannabis is particularly dangerous when used by young developing brains, with users of skunk cannabis seven times more likely to become psychotic than users of the old fashioned hash. Skunk makes up 80% of the market.

"If the public at large was given the true facts about cannabis and the danger that its use imposes on young people and the damage that it causes to their brains, I am sure the outcome of these polls would be very different."

In a statement to the poll, Paul Jenkins of the charity Rethink Mental Illness warned that cannabis should not be seen as a "safe drug".

"The most important issue is not whether or not to legalise cannabis, but how we educate people about the potential risks of using the drug," he said.

"It worries me that cannabis is seen by many as a 'safe' drug when in fact, it is linked to schizophrenia and can destroy lives."

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Mori, involved face-to-face interviews with 946 adults.

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