Over half the public – including 45% of Daily Mail readers – now support the legalisation of cannabis, new research suggests.
In a sign that public attitudes towards drugs are becoming decidedly more liberal, an Ipsos-MORI poll for the Transform Drug Policy Foundation found 53% of people want cannabis legalised, while just 14% want tougher penalties for users.
"These results show just how far ahead of politicians the public are. While Labour and Conservative politicians shy away from the debate on drugs, around half their supporters want to see legal regulation of cannabis production and supply," a Transform spokesperson said.
The poll demonstrates that even among Daily Mail readers, almost half support less punitive approaches to cannabis and a majority back an independent review of all options, which may come as a surprise to the paper's editors.
The findings indicate 45% of mid-market newspaper readers, including Daily Mail and Express readers, support cannabis legalisation.
The strong showing for legalisation among a section of newspaper readers who are assumed to be extremely hostile to recreational drug use suggests public opinion may be undergoing a fundamental change.
Gordon Brown reportedly reclassified cannabis as a Class B narcotic in a bid to win favour with Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and the reaction of tabloids has been a dominant force in the minds of politicians when they refrain from having the debate over drug policy.
Support for a full review of all drug policy options was favoured by 67% of the general public, 65% of mid-market tabloid readers and 66% of tabloid readers.
Seventy-per-cent of Conservative supporters and 69% of Labour supporters also support this option.
The home affairs committee demanded a royal commission into drug policy last year, but its call was rejected by the home secretary and the prime minister.