Support for Legalized Cannabis at a Record High in the UK

A new poll showed high levels of support across all demographics.

Nearly two in three people in the United Kingdom say they support full marijuana legalization, according to the findings in a new Populus poll.

Fifty-nine percent of people surveyed said they strongly support or tend to support the legalization of cannabis, compared to just 31 percent who said they are opposed to the idea.

The new poll was carried out by Populus and commissioned by think tank Volteface and the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis.

The results show that support for the legalization of cannabis is now at an all-time high, and reveal a seismic shift in opinion from May when a YouGov survey recorded public support at 43 percent.

“In only six months, opinion has swung significantly in favor of cannabis legalization, which Volteface believes is a reaction to the recent developments around medical cannabis,” Liz McCulloch, Volteface’s director of policy, told The Independent.

“Cannabis is now firmly part of the mainstream political debate and awareness of alternative approaches around the world have made legalization a viable policy option,” she added.

Support for legalization was found to be highest among younger adults. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of adults between 18 and 24 years said they favor legalization, compared to nearly half (49 percent) of adults over 65.

Two-thirds of adults surveyed said they believe that the UK’s cannabis laws should be reformed. Of those, 40 percent would favor legalization while 25 percent prefer decriminalization. Only one third of the British population would like to see cannabis remain a criminal offense.

When asked about medical cannabis, 76 percent said they would be open to its use if prescribed to them by their physician. Thirteen percent said they intended to discuss the potential of using cannabis for medical purposes once it became legally available.

Of all surveyed, 15 percent said they have consumed cannabis at least once in their life. The figure was found to be highest among adults 18-24 year old and lowest among those 65 years and older.

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Medical Cannabis Now Legally Available

Doctors in England, Wales, and Scotland as of November 1 can legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicine to patients.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid had announced the cannabis policy change in July, after a public outcry over the cases of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell and six-year-old Alfie Dingley. The two children had been denied access to cannabis oil due to its classification as a Schedule I substance.

Under the new policy, only specialists can prescribe medical cannabis, and only after other treatments have failed.

While the law change is monumental, campaigners have criticized it for being so “restrictive” that only a small number of patients will actually benefit.

The restrictive regulations reflect Javid’s concern over cannabis being used for purposes other than medical.

“I have been clear that my intention was always to ensure that patients have access to the most appropriate course of medical treatment,” he said in October. “I have been consistently clear that I have no intention of legalizing the recreational use of cannabis.”

More on Legal Cannabis

Learn more about the current recreational and medical cannabis laws in the UK and elsewhere through our education page.