The drugs (policies) don’t work

The drugs (policies) don’t work

More than half of British people believe that the Government’s approach to illegal drugs is ineffective, our poll has discovered. Nearly half think that illegal drugs are a serious problem that is affecting the entire country, but almost 90% feel that realistically, there will always be people who use drugs, and that the aim should therefore be to reduce the amount of harm they cause to users and others.

The majority of Brits believes that those who use illegal drugs but have not committed any other crimes should be regarded as people who may need treatment and support, not as criminals, while more than two in five think that the legalisation of drugs would see as decrease in associated illegal activities such as drugs smuggling and human trafficking.

  • 53% of people believe that the Government’s approach to illegal drugs is currently ineffective
  • 48% believe that drugs are a serious problem affecting the whole country
  • While 41% believe that drugs are a problem that is confined to certain neighbourhoods and certain types of people
  • Just 8% think that it’s realistically possible to eliminate drugs from our society
  • While a significant 88% believe that, whether we like it or not, there will always be people who use drugs, and that the aim should therefore be to reduce the amount of harm they cause themselves and others

Drugs to allow

  • From out list of well-known illegal drugs, marijuana was the drug most selected to be made legal, with nearly a quarter of people (23%) saying the drug should be permitted
  • While 7% would legalise magic mushrooms, 5% ecstasy and 3% cocaine
  • 52% of Brits conclude that no drugs should be legalised

Criminals or victims?

  • 59% of Brits consider that people who use illegal drugs but have not committed any other crime should, in general be treated as people who may need treatment and support
  • While 31% think they should be considered as criminals and brought before the courts

Benefits of legalisation?

  • 43% of Brits felt that the legalisation of drugs would see a decrease in associated illegal activities, such as drugs smuggling and human trafficking
  • While 40% said legalisation would allow for better regulation of the industry, and 36% thought that the Government could raise funds through taxation
  • But 30% said that there would be no benefit if drugs were legalised

Current drugs legislation in Britain sees illegal drugs divided into three categories, classes A, B and C, which each carry different penalties for possession and dealing. Class A drugs are considered to be the most likely to cause harm and dealing class A drugs such as Ecstasy and Cocaine can lead to up to lifetime imprisonment.

A report released last month by the UK Drugs Policy Commission entitled ‘Taking Drugs Seriously’ concluded that current drugs legislation is ‘not fit for purpose’ and existing rules on drugs are doing more harm than good. The report warned that the exponential rise in ‘legal highs’ and the availability of substances over the internet is making current laws redundant.


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Authors

Alice Moran

Writer and contributor to the YouGov website

Worked in the YouGov London office