Cannabis: Eight in 10 Britons favour an easing of the law

The people
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The Independent Online
If Jack Straw decides to back the decriminalising of cannabis, he will find that the overwhelming majority of Britons are behind him, to judge from a Mori pollfor the Independent on Sunday which revealed that 80 per cent want the law relaxed.

Almost half of those polled (45 per cent) said they were in favour of the law being changed for those who need cannabis for medicinal purposes, while 35 per cent wanted cannabis legalised for recreational use. Only one in six (17 per cent) approved of the Government's policy of maintaining the status quo.

Mr Straw would be particularly popular among under-45s, 45 per cent of whom believe cannabis should be available for personal use. The belief among ministers and their advisers that our campaign appeals chiefly to middle-class intellectuals was not borne out by the poll. More than half of working-classrespondents (55 per cent) thought a debate on a change in the law was a good idea.

Further evidence that the Government is wrong to dismiss the cross-class support for decriminalisation came from a phone-in poll published around the same time of the IoS Mori poll. The Labour-supporting Mirror showed its readers voting by nearly two to one in favour of decriminalisation.

Nearly six out of 10 (59 per cent) Conservative voters and seven out of 10 (68 per cent) of Labour were in favour of a debate; 64 per cent applauded the unprecedented call by Lord Bingham, the Lord Chief Justice, last October for an open debate on legalising cannabis.

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