HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Poll Reveals Demand For Legalization
Pubdate: Sun, 08 Jul 2001
Source: Independent  (UK)
Copyright: 2001 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Authors: Colin Brown, Steve Richards and Sophie Goodchild
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Survey Shows Growth In Support For Ending Ban: Majority Of Under-34s 
Say 'Make It Legal': Pot Smokers Against Softer Line On Hard Drugs

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%

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."
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