New Poll Finds Half of Britain in Support of Cannabis Legalization

Nearly half of those in Britain are reportedly in support of a new legislative proposal by the Liberal Democrats Party that would legalize adult use cannabis.

Forty-seven percent of Britain backs the passing of legislation that would legalize cannabis sales through licensed shops, according to a new opinion poll presented by The Independent. Thirty-nine percent were opposed to the passing of cannabis legislation and the other 14 percent reported they were unsure.

The survey of 2,000 people was commissioned by the Liberal Democrats Party, which recently made history by becoming the first British political party to officially support marijuana legalization. The party is using the poll’s findings as encouragement to their new drugs policy that would legally allow adults over 18 years of age to buy cannabis from licensed single-purpose stores, permit home cultivation, and regulate the price, potency, and packaging of all cannabis sales.

The party commissioned the survey in response to a March 2016 study that found legalizing the sale of cannabis would generate £1bn a year in tax revenue. The study, conducted by a panel of scientists and chaired by Steve Rolles of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, also concluded that cannabis legalization would reduce the harm done to users and society by reducing drug-related crime and mitigating potential harmful effects.

“This is a groundbreaking report that is a huge contribution to the debate on introducing a regulated cannabis market in the UK,” Liberal Democrats health spokesman Norman Lamb said. “Every year billions of pounds are put into the pockets of organised criminals selling cannabis and vast amounts of police time and resources are wasted going after those using the drug.”

Recreational and medical cannabis is currently illegal in the United Kingdom, with the maximum penalty for possession being 5 years in prison and an unlimited fine. According to The Lincolnite, there are between 100 and 190 drug offenses recorded every month in Lincolnshire. Between February 2015 and January 2016, drug-related crimes made up 1,632 of the 51,193 crimes and anti-social behavior offenses.

“Prohibition of cannabis has failed,” said Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron. “We need a new, smarter approach… It is waste of police time to go after young people using cannabis and ludicrous to saddle them with criminal convictions that can damage their future careers. A legal market would allow us to have more control over what is sold, and raise a considerable amount in taxation.”

Run by polling company ORB, the survey found that men are more strongly in favor of legalizing cannabis, with 53 percent responding to be in support, compared to 41 percent of women. Support was higher among individuals within the upper and middle class demographics (50 percent) compared to those of lower and working class status (44 percent). Backing for the Liberal Democrats’ proposal was highest in Scotland (58 percent) and London (54 percent) and lowest in the Northeast (37 percent).

For British marijuana legislation campaigners, the poll’s findings are considered a breakthrough and seen as evidence of shifting attitudes and a better public understanding of the benefits of legalization.