Two in ten know someone who uses cannabis once a week or more – but the nation is divided on legislation
Last week the Liberal Democrat drugs minister, Norman Baker, refused to rule out the policy of legalising cannabis. He is currently completing a year-long international comparative study, designed to look at which aspects of drug treatment and policy work best. Although he has said he is not advocating legalisation at the moment, he has said “we should be prepared to follow the evidence and see where it takes us”.
The announcement came during a series of drug revelations. Former Co-operative bank boss Paul Flowers was arrested for drug use, it was claimed Nigella Lawson used them daily for ten years and Robbie Williams said he “last got high two days ago”. One commentator even mused: “The question is not who is taking drugs, but who isn’t”.
New research conducted by YouGov puts a figure on how ubiquitous cannabis use feels in Britain. 20% know someone who uses cannabis frequently – every week or more - while a quarter of us (25%) know someone who uses it semi-regularly, ‘every now and again’.
In London, over a third (35%) know a semi-regular user, compared to 25% of those in the rest of the South or the North. And while those aged 18-39 are more likely to know of users, even one in ten over 60s know someone who uses cannabis every week.
On cannabis policy specifically, slightly more (47%) actually tend to favour a change in the law than want the law to remain as it is (43%). Of those who favour a change, 25% say it should be illegal but decriminalised, like parking in the wrong place, while 22% say it should be legal altogether.
The Home Office's study is touring drug policy in ten countries, starting in Portugal where a policy of 'depenalisation' - removing criminal penalties for personal posession of drugs - has been in effect since 2001. According to government statistics, drug use in the UK is at its lowest level since 1996, when records began, although cannabis is the most common drug, with 6.4% of adults aged 16-59 using it in the last year.
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