Would making cannabis lawful be a gateway legalisation?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 21, 2018, 12:00 AM GMT+0

YouGov examines whether those who favour legalising cannabis feel the same way about other drugs

About a month ago the sale of cannabis in Canada became legal for the first time, making it only the second country in the world (the other is Uruguay) where such a law exists.

Here in the UK taking a softer line on cannabis has widespread public support. Close to four in ten Brits (38%) think the sale and possession of the drug should be legalised entirely; a further 22% want to see it decriminalised. Only three in ten (30%) believe that it should remain a criminal offense to sell or possess cannabis.

This is substantially more liberal than attitudes towards other drugs. Just over a third of Britons (36%) would like to see magic mushrooms legalised or decriminalised, and only 10-17% want to see the same for drugs like amphetamines, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine or heroin.

But would the legalisation of cannabis prove to be the thin end of the wedge? If Britain were to legalise the drug, would the debate simply shift on to calls for other drugs to be legalised as well?

New YouGov data suggests that this is unlikely to be the case.

Few of those who are pro-legalising cannabis want to see any other drugs legalised. The most popular other drug that this group wanted to see legalised is magic mushrooms, but even here only 32% would support such a move (a figure which constitutes just 12% of the general population as a whole).

Just 9-16% of those who want cannabis to be legalised would like to see any of the five other drugs listed to be legalised.

It does seem that the majority of pro-cannabis legalisation types would like to see a softer stance on magic mushrooms. Close to two-thirds (62%) would like to see the drug either legalised or decriminalised. As with the population as a whole views on magic mushrooms are something of an outlier, with attitudes remaining strict towards the other five drugs we asked about.

So even if Britain is destined to see commercial cannabis gracing store shelves in the near future, it’s unlikely that there will be any other currently illegal drugs sitting alongside them.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here