Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Public agree cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco

There was a poll released by Politics Home yesterday in the wake of the "Nutt Sack" debacle which as well as showing that a majority think it was wrong for Professor Nutt to have been sacked also asked them how harmful they think various drugs are.

The specific question asked was:

In terms of the overall harm that you perceive the following drugs as causing to individuals and society, please say how harmful you perceive the following drugs to be:

And the results were:

Now this sort of finding is fascinating. As can clearly be seen, the public understand that cannabis is less harmful than both alcohol and tobacco, both of which of course are legal. The science tells us this is the case and the public understand this and it is reflected in opinion polls.

One of the arguments that I often hear about why cannabis could not be made legal is that "the public will never wear it". This poll would appear to give the lie to this claim. The public are more sophisticated than the politicians give them credit for. They understand the risks.

In this context, moving cannabis from Class C back to Class B goes against not just the science but public opinion. That position is unsustainable in the long term.


Ian Eiloart said...
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Ian Eiloart said...

This kind of depends on what you mean by "less harmful". To UK society as a whole, cannabis may well cause less harm than tobacco. To an individual smoker, well there's little research, but the cancer risk is probably about the same.

So, the drug rating system: is that advice to an individual about the risks of their behaviour? Or, is it advice to the government about their priorities, or advice to the legal system about deterrence and punishment?

I reckon three ratings need to be published - one for each purpose. Perhaps more.