To Legalise or Not To Legalise: The Cannabis Debate
The research for the following post was featured on the Scottish Sun in both print and online formats.
The British public has overwhelmingly backed the legalisation of medicinal cannabis – with 76% saying they would support such a move in the wake of the Billy Caldwell case.
Twelve-year-old Billy, who suffers from epilepsy, had his supply of cannabis oil medication confiscated by Home Office staff at Heathrow Airport last week.
Billy’s mum Charlotte said her son would ‘die’ without the oil treatment that saw the lad’s life-threatening seizures stop for 300 days.
Mrs. Caldwell, 50, from Castlederg, Northern Ireland, fought tooth and nail for the oil to be returned – and Home Secretary Sajid Javid finally relented at the weekend.
And earlier this week, Mr. Javid went one step further by announcing a government review into medicinal cannabis.
And now an exclusive poll by Atomik Research has shown Brits would back a move to legalise the drug for medical use.
Seventy-six per cent of those questioned said medicinal cannabis should be legalized, with just 13% against the idea and 11% saying they didn’t know.
Support is highest in Billy’s home of Northern Ireland, with 82% of those polled saying they would back such a move.
People aged 35-44 were most likely to back the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, with 81% prepared to lend their support.
But 30% of 25-34-year-olds say they would be against a change in the law.
Sixty-four per cent of people surveyed said they thought medicinal cannabis was safe when administered by a health professional.
However, the majority of Brits would not back the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed said it should not be legalised, with 41% prepared to back such a plan.
Support was higher among men, with 47% saying recreational cannabis should be legalised, compared to 35% of women.
Those aged 35-44 were again the age group most in favour, with 62% saying they would back legalisation.
Londoners were most open to the idea of legalisation, with three in five (60%) saying they would be in favour.
Four in ten (40%) of those surveyed said cannabis is only as harmful as alcohol, with 15% believing it to be completely harmless, 12% saying it was dangerous and a quarter (26%) believing it is a gateway to harder drugs.
The top reasons for legalising cannabis were to help those who rely on the treatment (48%), reducing crime by taking the power away from dealers (46%) and ensuring cannabis was safe for all to use (44%).
The biggest risks were seen as more drivers on the road under the influence of cannabis (50%), a rise in mental health issues relating to cannabis use (47%) and fears that more young adults could be encouraged to use drugs (44%).