Half of those who would oppose fully decriminalising cannabis support the pilot scheme
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is looking to launch a new pilot scheme aimed at tackling drug use and reoffending among young people. If given the go-ahead, the scheme will see people under the age of 25 caught with small amounts of cannabis referred to therapy and education services as opposed to being prosecuted. The scheme is similar to others already in place around the country but is still pending approval by City Hall officials.
A new YouGov survey of Londoners reveals that around six in ten people in the capital support the trial scheme (63%, including 24 who “strongly support” it), while 19% are opposed. Support is cross-party, including 69% of Labour voters and 55% of Conservative voters, although Conservative voters are twice as likely to oppose it (30%) as their Labour counterparts (16%).
Tory MPs have called on Khan to abandon the scheme as they claim it “effectively decriminalises cannabis” – something the Mayor’s office refutes, saying they have “no intention” of doing so. Capital residents who oppose the decriminalisation of “soft” drugs such as cannabis seem to agree with the major, given that they support the scheme by 52% to 38%. Unsurprisingly, those in favour of decriminalising the possession of cannabis are even more likely to support the scheme (78%).
It is hoped that by sparing young offenders’ prosecution and exposure to the legal system, they will be ultimately less likely to offend in the future. However, despite supporting Khan’s plan, Londoners are divided on whether it will achieve this core aim. Some 36% think it will be successful in doing so, while 37% are sceptical. Among Labour voters, 42% think it will help reducing reoffending, but 31% do not, compared to half of Conservatives (53%) who think it will not be successful and only one in four (25%) who think it will be.
Despite supporting the scheme, those who oppose the decriminalisation of cannabis also doubt it will reduce reoffending (57%). Those who support decriminalisation, on the other hand, think it will be effective in reducing crime by 50% to 32%. The proposed trial would only take place across three boroughs, Lewisham, Bexley and Greenwich. However, most Londoners would support the trial taking place in their local area (59%), with only 21% saying they would object to holding it locally.