Poll commissioned by LDDPR demonstrates public are ready for drugs discussion

11.36.40am BST (GMT +0100) Sat 10th Jul 2010

Press release:

New poll shows 70% support for legal regulation of cannabis
Three other drugs: Magic Mushrooms, Amphetamines, and Mephedrone show a majority in favour of legalisation and regulation, whilst 3 in 10 people would prefer the state regulate rather than prohibit heroin supply. These poll results demonstrate that the public is ready for a mature, open discussion of alternative approaches to drug policy and that there is no need for politicians to fear a backlash should they express doubts about the wisdom of our current approach.

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Rather than just ask whether each drug should be “legalised”, the poll gave brief descriptions of three regulatory options and asked the public to pick which they thought most tolerable for each of a series of drugs. The options were:

Light regulation (drugs sold like tobacco and alcohol are now)
Strict government control and regulation (an example of how government could heavily regulate a legal market in an attempt to minimise harm)
and Prohibition (the current status of illegal drugs).

Figures below supporting legal regulation add the percentages for “light regulation” and “strict government control and regulation”

Headline results include:

• 70% support for legal regulation of cannabis, with 1 in 3 of those polled feeling that it should be sold in a similar way to alcohol and tobacco.
• More people supporting legal regulation than prohibition for 3 other drugs: Magic Mushrooms (52% to 34%), Amphetamines (49% to 40%), and the recently banned “legal high” Mephedrone (41% to 39%).
• 39% support for the legal regulation of ecstasy sales, 36% support for regulation of cocaine, and 30% of respondents supported the legal regulation of heroin.
• For alcohol and tobacco over 1 in 4 respondents supported strict government control and regulation and 8% expressed a desire for tobacco to be prohibited.
• Very little variation in opinion dependent on which political party respondents support.

Ewan Hoyle, founder of campaigning group Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform says:

“The “Do you think drugs should be legalised?” question asked in polls up until now is not useful. It may be interpreted as a question on moral tolerance of drug use, or may conjure up thoughts of an unregulated free-market that they rightly judge to be dangerous. This poll shows that, when asked to choose between various regulatory options, the British people are comfortable with strict control and regulation as a solution to our drugs problem.”

Steve Rolles of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation says:

It is important that people understand that ‘legalisation’ is a process not a policy endpoint – and is one that can lead to strict government regulation of markets. It does not imply an unregulated commercial free for all that many may imagine if no other options are outlined. If anything an unregulated free for all is what we have under prohibition.

The important lesson for politicians is that they don’t need to be afraid of public opinion on this issue if it is presented in the more practical terms of market regulation. Visit contractshop.co.uk for more…