Public attitudes to drugs policy

A new Ipsos MORI poll for the Transform Drugs Policy Foundation shows 53% of the public want cannabis legalised or decriminalised, and 67% want a review of Britain's approach to drugs.

Public attitudes to drugs policy

A new Ipsos MORI poll for the Transform Drugs Policy Foundation shows 53% of the public want cannabis legalised or decriminalised, and 67% want a review of Britain's approach to drugs.

Ipsos MORI Research Director, Ashley Ames said: 

The public’s view of drug policy is not clear-cut, reflecting the nature and emotiveness of the issue. Just over half of the public support legal regulation or decriminalisation of cannabis production, supply and use, but that view is not maintained when asked about possession of illegal drugs as a whole. The majority still believe that the possession of illegal drugs should remain a criminal offence. What is apparent is that the majority of people are open to persuasion and debate, with two-thirds favouring a drugs policy review comparing Britain’s current system of criminalisation with alternatives.

Technical Note

Ipsos MORI carried out the survey, on behalf of Transform Drug Policy Foundation, between 25 January and 5 February 2013. A sample of 946 British adults aged 18+ completed a face-to-face survey via the Ipsos MORI omnibus. The data has been weighted by gender, social grade, age, region, working status, housing tenure and ethnicity to reflect the known local population profile. Questions / Definitions Given the subject matter, questions were presented to respondents on showcards with options reversed for some respondents. Respondents read out a letter to indicate their response. Q1 was a split sample question: half sample were asked Q1A half sample were asked Q1B.

Q1A. Possession of illegal drugs is currently a criminal offence in the UK. Some other countries have ‘decriminalised’ possession of small quantities of illegal drugs for personal use. This means that possession of a small quantity for personal use is usually punished with fines (like a speeding fine), or attendance at a drug treatment or education programme, rather than arrest. Under ‘decriminalisation’, drugs are still confiscated. Production and supply to others remain criminal offences that may result in punishments carrying a criminal record, for example a prison sentence, fines or community service. With this in mind, which of the following comes closest to your view of the law in the UK? a. The law in the UK should stay as it currently is, so that possession of illegal drugs remains a criminal offence. b. The law in the UK should be changed, so that the possession of small quantities of illegal drugs is ‘decriminalised’, as described. c. An experimental trial of ‘decriminalisation’ should take place for a limited time period in some parts of the UK, to allow its effectiveness to be evaluated. d. Other

Q1B. Possession of illegal drugs is currently a criminal offence in the UK. Some other countries have ‘decriminalised’ possession of small quantities of illegal drugs for personal use. This means that possession of a small quantity for personal use is usually punished with fines (like a speeding fine), or attendance at a drug treatment or education programme, rather than arrest. Under ‘decriminalisation’, drugs are still confiscated. Production and supply to others remain criminal offences that may result in punishments carrying a criminal record, for example a prison sentence, fines or community service. Since this was introduced in Portugal in 2001, and resources were instead spent on healthcare, overall use of drugs rose at a similar rate to neighbouring countries. However, there were higher numbers accessing drug treatment, the justice system spent less time and resources on drug-related crime, and there were falls in problematic drug use, and drug use amongst school age children also fell. With this in mind, which of the following comes closest to your view of the law in the UK? a. The law in the UK should stay as it currently is, so that possession of illegal drugs remains a criminal offence. b. The law in the UK should be changed, so that the possession of small quantities of illegal drugs is ‘decriminalised’, as described. c. An experimental trial of ‘decriminalisation’ should take place for a limited time period in some parts of the UK, to allow its effectiveness to be evaluated. d. Other

Q2. Would you support the government commissioning a full independent review of drug policy, that compared our current system of criminalisation with alternatives, including: increasing the criminal penalties for production, sale and use of drugs; decriminalising drug possession as described; and the legalisation and state regulation of production and supply for some currently illegal drugs? a. Yes, I would support a review b. No, I would not support a review c. Other

Q3. Here are a number of different options for regulating the production, supply and use of cannabis (also sometimes called marijuana, pot, hash, grass, skunk, weed, spliff or joints). Please read through this card and then read out the letter next to the option which you think best matches how you think cannabis should be regulated.

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