By Roland Sebestyén
While the government has reiterated several times that it is not planning to change its policy on cannabis, a new poll shows growing support for cannabis to be made legal in the UK.
According to the latest YouGov poll, almost a third (32%) of people agree that the sale and possession of soft drugs, such as cannabis, should no longer be illegal – this is a significant 3% growth since the last poll in February.
YouGov also reports that 22% would support the decriminalisation of these drugs. This would mean that possession and use would be regarded as a minor offence, such as parking in the wrong place, rather than a criminal offence.
All in all, that’s 54% that would support some sort of reform to cannabis policy in the UK.
This is astonishing.
At the same time, the number of people against legalisation or decriminalisation has plummeted: compared to the 40% of respondents that thought soft drugs should be kept banned in February, now only 36% support the ongoing criminalisation of the possession, sale and use of drugs like cannabis.
Potential decriminalisation measures became a massive part of the local elections in May – especially, in London.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has pledged to set up an independent drugs commission “to assess the potential health, economic and criminal justice effects” should cannabis be decriminalised in the capital city.
In an interview only days before the elections, Mr Khan said he used to oppose cannabis decriminalisation but then he changed his mind.
He said: “I’ve seen too many young people criminalised for possessing a little bit of cannabis. I’ve [also] seen some of the health consequences of cannabis and its impact in relation to the violent crime of the drug industry.
“I’m going to set up a London Drug’s Commission after the election which will have experts from a number of industries. I want them to go and look what’s happened overseas where they have decriminalised cannabis and then come and present me what their recommendations are.”
Although Mr Khan has since won another term in the London Assembly, the government reiterated that the Mayor of London is unable to implement changes to drug policy as it is a government matter.
They wrote: “Policy on controlled drugs is a matter for UK government and there are no plans to devolve this responsibility.
“The prime minister has spoken about this on many occasions – illicit drugs destroy lives and he has absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis, which is a harmful substance.”