Thursday, July 17, 2008

UK Youth Strongest Supporters of Drug Legalisation in Europe

Transform Drug Policy Foundation (TDPF) today welcomed the European Commission’s (EC) decision to start using its regular Eurobarometer opinion poll “Young people and drugs” to assess public support for replacing drugs prohibition with state regulated supply.

Transform’s Policy Director Danny Kushlick said;

“We congratulate the EC for recognising that other options than the failed war on drugs are being proposed, and for asking the public about them. This poll shows that many people support new approaches, and it is likely many more at least want them properly explored.

In light of this, the UK Government must stop refusing to assess the costs and benefits of current and alternative ways to combat drug problems, allowing future policy to be based on evidence, not ‘tough on drugs’ posturing that costs lives and wrecks communities. Such an audit would show replacing drugs prohibition with strict control and regulation would cut crime, reduce harm to users, and save billions of pounds.”

Previous versions of the survey on attitudes to drugs amongst EU citizens aged 15-24 were carried out in 2002 and 2004. Only the most recent version in May 2008 asked:

· Whether legalising drugs would be one of the most effective ways for public authorities to combat drug problems.

· Whether heroin, cocaine, ecstasy or cannabis should continue to be banned, or their sale and consumption regulated instead.

The British, Irish and Dutch most favoured the legalisation and regulation of drugs as a way of dealing with drug related problems in society. In the UK and Ireland 22 per cent thought it would be either the most effective, or the second most effective way, followed by the Dutch on 21 per cent.

In the UK and Spain 40 per cent of young people thought the sale and consumption of cannabis should be regulated rather than banned, behind the Netherlands (52 per cent) and the Czech Republic (53 per cent).

Averaged across all 27 EU countries, those polled much preferred so-called “soft” measures for dealing with drug-users e.g. information and prevention campaigns (47 per cent) or the treatment and rehabilitation of users (33 per cent), as opposed to tough measures (23 per cent).


Contact: Danny Kushlick, Head of Policy +44 (0) 7970 174747

Martin Powell +44 (0) 117 941 5810

Notes for Editors:

  1. For a full copy of Flash Eurobarometer No 233 –Young People and Drugs 2008 visit .
  2. The poll was requested by the European Commission’s Directorate-General Justice, Liberty and Security.
  3. In its review of UK drug policy of 2002 the UK Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee (including David Cameron MP) recommended: "That the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways - including the possibility of legalisation and regulation - to tackle the global drugs dilemma."
  4. Transform Drug Policy Foundation (TDPF) is the UK’s leading think tank on drug policy reform

Transform Drugs Policy Foundation
, Bristol BS5 0HE, Tel 0117 941 5810

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