A majority of the British public back the legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis use so that it would be sold in shops like alcohol and tobacco, according to a BMG Research poll for the Independent.
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% strongly backed the move, while 29% somewhat supported it, making total support 51%.
Strongly opposed were 19% opposed and 16% somewhat opposed, totalling 35%, while 14% were undecided.
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% overall, with 20% strongly in support and 32% somewhat in support.
Decriminalisation was somewhat opposed by 17% and strongly opposed by 16% strongly, totalling opposition of 33%, while and 16% did not know.
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The results show a shift in public opinion and the national impact of recent stories of Billy Caldwell, Alfie Dingley and Sophia Gibson, who all need medicinal cannabis oil to treat serious forms of epilepsy.
UKCSC Chairman Greg de Hoedt commented: “People do not want to see their family members or friends going to prison or getting a criminal record for cannabis use anymore. With the three strikes warning system it’s kind of like a parking ticket only with some more serious consequences that can seriously affect how well you can succeed in life without stigma. That’s what decriminalisation means.
“The British public have come round to the fact that stopping someone from getting a better job because they once got caught smoking a joint outside a pub isn’t a great policy and does nothing to benefit our economy and society.
“In a growing number of counties Police Crime Commissioners have taken a more sensible approach to dealing with people who use cannabis for personal or medicinal reasons and are choosing non-enforcement as an option for personal cultivation that they see causes no harm to the community. They will act on information provided to them but the days of targeting cannabis consumers is starting to change.
“The UK Cannabis Social Clubs movement has been born out of people’s desire to have a safer cannabis market where there is no criminal element involved, products are tested and known to be grown in an ethical and safe to consume way. The black market does not provide these wanted assurances that any other consumer group is afforded.
“The cannabis industry already exists in the UK and it is evolving while the Government are dragging their heels. Club members grow their own cannabis at home and share it among members on a nonprofit basis and there are many, many more around the country that grow cannabis and sell it to their friends, but where do you think that money ends up? Back in the local economy and paying bills. If anything, we saw an upward trend in people becoming self sufficient after austerity was forced upon people and acts like the Bedroom Tax were ushered in.
“There are also people that treat cannabis as a business, grow large amounts of it and then wholesale it but the Government refuses to tax and regulate it. It really wouldn’t take much to introduce some harm reduction strategies to help consumers make safer decisions when purchasing cannabis.”