A new survey released on Saturday has shown that 47% of the UK public now support the legalisation of cannabis sold through licensed retailers. Of the remainder, 39% said that they remain opposed to the legalisation while the remaining 14% replied "don't know".
The findings come from a survey of 2,000 people by ORB for the Independent. The poll also found that men were more likely to support legalisation than women, with 53% of men supporting compared to 41% of women. Social class may also be a factor, 50% of people in the top AB bracket support legalisation while 44% in the lowest bracket, DE, also support cannabis being legal.
Scotland was the region with the highest levels of support for legalisation, at 58%, and then London at 54%. The region with the lowest backing was the North East at 37%.
Lib Dem plan backed
The findings also suggest that the public is in favour of the Liberal Democrat's proposals to legalise cannabis. Before being asked about legalisation, respondents were told about a study conducted by the Lib Dems that said the sale of cannabis in licensed retailers could raise £1bn ($1.41bn) in tax revenue.
The survey's results also said that 33% of people think possession of cannabis should be decriminalised and the drug's supply should be restricted, and 14% think cannabis should be able to be freely bought and sold.
Of those responding, 33% of people also said they had tried "non-skunk cannabis", while 15% said they had tried 'skunk' – strains of cannabis with high concentrations of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.
The survey also asked about the legality of other drugs: 47% of people said poppers (alkyl nitrites) should stay legal. Poppers only just escaped being banned in March.
When it came to tobacco, 10% of people thought it should be illegal to buy or sell, 70% thought it should be freely available, and 64% of people said they had it. Of those surveyed, 90% of people said they had tried alcohol and 83% said it should be legal and freely available to buy and sell.
Most dangerous drugs
In April 2015, YouGov released a survey of British adults' perceptions of which narcotics are the most dangerous. Cannabis was ranked 10th, while alcohol was ranked 11th. A 2010 study published in the Lancet, which was run by the former adviser on drugs policy for the Labour government Dr David Nutt, showed that ranked cannabis 8th, while alcohol was ranked the most dangerous of all recreational drugs.
Dr Nutt frequently came into conflict with the Labour administration over the legal status and medical effects of illegal and legal drugs. In 2009, he was fired from his position as the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Writing in the Guardian at the time, Alan Johnson MP said Dr Nutt was dismissed because he could not "be both a government adviser and a campaigner against government policy".