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Cannabis: Poll Reveals Demand for Legalisation

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by Superjoint, Jul 8, 2001.

  1. By Colin Brown, Steve Richards & Sophie Goodchild
    Source: Independent

    A significant and growing number of British voters want cannabis to be legalised, according to an opinion poll commissioned by The Independent on Sunday. The survey, by NOP Research, shows that almost half the British people ­ 49 per cent ­ are in favour of legalising cannabis or have no strong views against it.
    A narrow majority ­ 51 per cent ­ still opposes legalisation, but they are mainly among the over 55s, an indication that opinion is likely to move further in favour of lifting the ban in the coming years. A total of 39 per cent want legalisation now.

    The figures are in marked contrast to the last time NOP conducted such a poll, in 1996, when 66 per cent said "no" and only 26 per cent supported legalisation.

    A majority of young people support making it legal. That sends a worrying message to the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, and the Prime Minister, who insist there will be no change in the law.

    Peter Lilley, the former Tory deputy leader who challenged candidates in the Tory leadership contest to back legalisation, last night said the poll findings showed that opinion was steadily moving in favour of legalisation. He said it was inevitable that over the next 20 years cannabis would be legalised.

    He accused Tony Blair of "racism" for sanctioning the experiment in Brixton for the police not to prosecute the open use of the drug, while it was still officially banned elsewhere: "It is a racist approach. He is saying he wants to protect his own white children, but not black children in Brixton."

    Paul Flynn, the Labour MP and a long-term campaigner for legalisation, said it was extraordinary that the Tories were now more liberal on cannabis than Labour.

    Our poll shows that support for legalisation is strongest among the younger generation. Forty-five per cent of 16-to-34-year-olds are in favour of legalising the drug, compared to 43 per cent in that age group who oppose it. Even 29 per cent of those who have never used it say they support legalisation.

    The poll challenges the Government's assertions that legalising cannabis would act as a "gateway" to the use of harder drugs. Eighty-five per cent of cannabis users said that even if legalising that drug proved a success, they would still oppose legalisation of hard drugs.

    The Liberal Democrat spokesman, Simon Hughes, said his party is launching a "no holds barred" inquiry into drugs. It will report next spring and take evidence on taxation, customs and excise, and the legal implications of legalising cannabis and hard drugs.

    David Davis yesterday became the latest Tory leadership candidate to call for a review of the law, while remaining opposed to legalising cannabis: "I do think we need to look at the law because it is not working. We have more drugs being used and it is probably cheaper than ever. The policy is clearly failing, but I do not believe the correct route is to legalise cannabis," he said.

    Michael Portillo, favourite to win the first ballot in the Tory leadership election this week, is in favour of a review and says he has yet to make up his mind.

    Viscountess Runciman, chair of the Police Foundation inquiry into the drug laws, said it was "depressing" that the Government would not enter the debate: "There is now a real opportunity for change which would benefit a lot of people."

    IOS-NOP Poll

    Do you favour or oppose the legalisation of cannabis?

    Favour: 37%
    Oppose: 51%
    Don't know: 12%

    Have you ever tried cannabis?

    Yes - frequently: 3%
    Yes - occasionally: 15%
    No: 81%

    Note: Survey shows growth in support for ending ban: Majority of under-34s say 'make it legal': Pot smokers against softer line on hard drugs.

    Source: Independent (UK)
    Author: Colin Brown, Steve Richards & Sophie Goodchild
    Published: July 8, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
    Contact: letters@independent.co.uk
    Website: http://www.independent.co.uk/
     

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