POLL: 6 in 10 Brits Want Cannabis Legalized or Decriminalized
With all of the headlines recently about Canada legalizing weed at the national level, and Mexico talking about doing it, and the U.S. … well, with the U.S. slowly plodding towards inevitable federal reform, it is easy to forget about the progress being made by our buds across the pond in the United Kingdom.
While the recreational use of the plant is still highly illegal in England, the country quietly implemented a new legally regulated medical cannabis program just this month.
After many decades of marijuana prohibition fueled by misinformation and propaganda, the catalyst for reform in the UK was not an influx of lobbyist donations or the promise of massive tax revenues, but instead was the incessant pleas from parents who have seen what good the plant has done for sick kids around the globe and who demanded the same options for their own children.
Some highly publicized cases of kids being forced to go to great lengths to receive cannabis-based treatment created a storm of public outcry. In the case of 13-year-old Billy Caldwell, the government confiscated his cannabis-derived anti-epilepsy oil which caused the young lad to relapse into life-threatening seizures. Once this story went mainstream it took just six short weeks over this past summer for the national government to take action.
Government officials insist that the move is not a stepping stone to the recreational legalization of the cannabis plant for adult use.
But a recent poll by the British outlet YouGov reveals that public sentiment is only getting higher when it comes to cannabis, and not just for medical use.
The results of the poll show that 60% of Britons questioned believe that cannabis should be totally legalized (38%) or at least decriminalized (22%), while just 30% think it needs to remain illegal.
9% chose not to answer or didn’t have an answer, and 1% was likely too drunk to answer the phone.
As it stands now, getting busted growing, dealing, or possessing cannabis in the UK can lead to up to 14 years in prison along with an “unlimited” fine. In 2014, cannabis possession made up 67% of all drug-related arrests in Britain. No word on how many wheelie-bins got tipped instead.
One of the main (and ever so tired) arguments against legalizing weed in the UK is that it will act as some sort of a gateway drug, encouraging people to seek a higher high when cannabis just doesn’t do it for them anymore.
There are plenty of studies from the successful recreational cannabis programs from Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and other U.S. states that refute this argument, but all you have to do is ask the Brits themselves.
The YouGov poll showed that aside from “Magic Mushrooms” (14%), no other drug enjoyed more than 6% support for legalization.
Ecstasy, LSD, cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin all saw slightly more support for decriminalization than they did for legalization, but none of them seem to be on the minds of the vast majority of UK residents, according to this recent poll.
Still, it will probably be quite some time before the British Parliament cozies up to cannabis on the recreational level. In fact, they really have some work to do still on the medical side in order to make it a viable option for more patients facing more maladies.
As of November 1st, qualifying patients in the UK, Wales, and Scotland can apply for a NHS government prescription for cannabis. Currently, qualifying conditions are extremely limited to cases of nausea caused by chemotherapy, muscle stiffness linked to multiple sclerosis, and for children with rare or severe forms of epilepsy. Patients cannot grow their own and have no access to traditional storefront dispensaries like we have here.
The will of the people is a powerful thing, however, and if history is any lesson, it is only a matter of time before the Brits keep calm and pass real cannabis reform.