Some 44 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds who have used cannabis say it is easy to obtain, according to a poll of more than 1,000 teenagers by Survation for the drugs policy think tank Volteface.
By comparison, 22 per cent of those who have drunk alcohol say it is easy to buy.
Volteface’s research also revealed prosecutions of young people for supplying cannabis increased 26 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17, compared to a 16 per cent drop for adults.
Volteface expressed concern children were being “exploited” by adults.
“Dealing cannabis as a young person be considered a potential indicator of vulnerability, rather than criminality, and should be treated as a safeguarding concern, much like in instances of child sexual exploitation,” it said.
Labour MP David Lammy said the report shows “the war on drugs has failed” and “all options” including legislation should be considered as a remedy.
“Cannabis specifically has become the substance of choice for young people, who are unable to purchase alcohol because of its strict regulation,” he said.
“Therefore the criminalisation of the drug has had the exact opposite effect to the deterrence it was meant to induce.”
Liberal Democrat former health minister Norman Lamb said children were “paying the price for the UK’s outdated” drugs policy.
“The Government is directly putting children and teenagers at risk by leaving the supply of cannabis in the hands of organised crime,” he added.
Press Association contributed to this report
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