Twice as many British adults now support the legalization of cannabis as do not oppose it, according to a survey revealing a "growing gap" between public opinion and drug legislation.

The YouGov survey found that 48% of voters favor legalization of recreational marijuana use, up five percentage points from last year; only 24% opposed it.

Support for medical cannabis was even stronger, with 77% of respondents saying that it should be allowed. A similar proportion of respondents said they would consider using cannabis-based treatments if there was strong evidence that it would benefit them.

The Conservative Group on Drug Policy Reform (CDPRG), which commissioned the survey, said the results indicated "a growing appetite for a new approach to drug policy in the UK".

"This poll shows that the government and politicians are way behind the public's thinking," said Rob Wilson, the group's executive director and former conservative minister of civil society.

He added: "This illustrates the growing gap between the generalized, decades-old policies of ban, and the growing attitude of millions of voters willing to apply new approaches focused on the world. improved harm reduction and health care outcomes. "

The results were obtained after the government legalized some cannabis-based drugs last November, giving medical specialists the power to prescribe.

Despite this, virtually no NHS prescription has been issued to date, leaving expensive private prescriptions far beyond the reach of most families.

Just under a quarter of the 1,690 respondents surveyed believe that patients to whom the doctor has prescribed cannabis should be allowed to grow their own plants, with 22% believing that anyone should be allowed to grow the drug.

Thirty-one percent of respondents admitted to having tried cannabis.

Support for the legalization of cannabis was the strongest among young people and people living in London, where 56% supported the move. Fifty-two percent of respondents aged 18-49 in the country supported the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said that the government was fighting to tackle the drug problem in the UK, with seven out of ten saying the current ban policy was not enough to reduce the damage. .

Fifty-three per cent felt that drug use should be considered a health problem and should be addressed through harm reduction strategies rather than criminalization, which more than three-quarters said they were not effective deterrent.

Half of those surveyed thought that the legalization and sale of government-regulated cannabis would make youth and vulnerable people safer, compared to 23% who would otherwise.

Mr. Wilson said, "Illicit drugs cause terrible damage to families and communities across the country. Thousands of people are dying, hundreds of thousands of young people are taking drugs they do not understand and do not know what they contain. At the same time, violent criminal gangs are making huge financial gains while tackling the weak and the vulnerable.

"The results of this survey demonstrate the urgent need for policymakers and the government to begin rethinking policy in the context of an open, fully informed and evidence-based debate on the future of public policy. drug. "

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The CDPRG was launched last month by Mr Wilson and Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who called for the legalization of cannabis within five years. The group was created to lobby for a "clear and comprehensive review of drug policy".

Mike Barton, former police chief of Durham Police, said: "We simply can not stop to get out of the drug problem. The forces of order have long called for a public health approach to drugs.

"These [poll] The figures show that the British public agrees that criminalization is not the solution to drug problems. A public health approach could reduce harm to users and free up police resources to fight serious crimes. "